ACC Player of the Year and star Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner recounts his devastating struggle with cancer, revealing the lessons he drew from his miraculous recovery and his extraordinary comeback.
During his first two years at the University of Pittsburgh, running back James Conner became one of the Panthers’ biggest stars, breaking records and winning the adoration of fans. Then, in the first game of his junior year, the then twenty-year-old athlete was sidelined when he tore ligaments in his knee. But that was only the beginning of the challenges he would face. During rehab, his health deteriorated until an X-ray revealed several suspicious masses in his chest and a biopsy confirmed he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Suddenly, it wasn’t just the dream of an NFL career that was in jeopardy; it was James’s life. Yet when he shared the news of his diagnosis publicly, James rallied family, friends, and fans, with his message of hope and courage: “Fear is a choice. I choose not to fear cancer.” In just ten words, James defined his own journey on his own terms and refused to back down from one of the most dreaded diagnoses known to man.
Drawing strength from his faith in God and the support of his community and loved ones, James underwent treatment but continued to practice with his team despite the intense physical toll of chemotherapy. He was declared cancer free within a year. Returning to the field in 2016, he finished his college career with a record-breaking 3,733 rushing yards and 56 touchdowns. Entering the NFL draft early, his success continued. Selected in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he quickly became one of the most beloved rookies in the league.
In Fear Is a Choice, James candidly shares his experiences during his battle with cancer and beyond, encouraging readers and illustrating the spiritual truths and personal principles that got him through his darkest days and into the NFL. Focusing on personal growth, the meaning of true significance, and the faith that guided him through his most trying moments, Conner’s warm, deeply personal, and inspiring story offers wisdom and advice for anyone who has faced adversity or the loss their dreams—and everyone who wants to learn how to tackle life’s problems with dignity, grit, and confidence.