After Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson mum was diagnosed, the then adolescent would barely sleep more than four hours per night as he simultaneously held down three jobs to ensure the household bills were paid.
Focusing on football proved to be an inspired decision as his talents saw him became Clemson Tigers quarter back while at college.
Watson was ranked the number one quarterback recruit for the 2014 class by ESPN 300 by helping the Tigers end a three-decade national championship drought.
The QB was heavily eyed by NFL franchises ahead of the 2017 draft after he was awarded the offensive MVP award for his performance during the national championship game.
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Watson's second full season with the Texans is going steadily and tonight his team take on the Indianapolis Colts, with both franchises looking to improve on 6-4 records.
"I was in high school when ma got sick, aged 13,13,15,16 and she went away for a year," he said.
"She had tongue cancer. She wasn't smoking a lot but it just happened like that.
"In the course of that year I only saw her twice but she just told me to be a big brother to my younger siblings and play football.
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"So I had loads of jobs, I would be working late and sometimes sleeping at school.
"I used to work at the courthouse with the chief judge, I was a construction guy and I was an Atlanta Falcons ballboy.
"So I was getting paid for all these different things but I was only sleeping like four or five hours every night at the most before waking up to go to school."
Mrs Watson went through chemotherapy and radiation, had a large section of her tongue removed, and then underwent reconstructive surgery to have it rebuilt.
The treatment was successful and Watson’s mother, to this day, maintains a clean bill of health.
“It took a whole year for us to really understand … ever since it’s been pretty good. She’s cancer free and living life to the fullest," he added.
"Now her speech is good. She’s back to normal, and I wanna thank the doctor who did her surgery.”
Watson has racked up 18 passing touchdowns in his 10 games so far, as well as five by way of rushing.
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