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Former Athlete Gets Cancer, South St. Paul Community Gives Support

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – He’s battled on the football field, and now he’s battling for his life.

Sam Hosszu was the starting left tackle on South St. Paul’s state tournament team last year. A couple of weeks ago, he was all set to go to college when he was diagnosed with a form of cancer.

Instead of taking classes, he’s now receiving chemotherapy.

But he’s getting a lot of support from some old friends.

Last Friday night, the Packers were picking up right where they left off from last year’s state tournament run. South St. Paul was all over the field. But school colors were hard to come by in the stands.

Instead of a sea of maroon and white, it was a wave of orange. And it was all for one person.

“Orange is my favorite color, so it all works out,” Sam said.

The tumor the size of a football in Sam’s chest is lymphoma and it has changed quite a bit in his life.

“It’s turned my whole world upside down,” Sam said. “I had everything in my room laid out set to go to college. Just had to pack a few clothes and I was supposed to take off.”

Says mother Alecia: “It’s terrifying. You wish you could put yourself in your child’s position and take the pain away and take away the hurt.”

But while the road ahead may be long, fans aren’t forgetting about Sam. On Friday night his former teammates put orange laces in their cleats.

“We are supporting him with the crowd and all the fans,” said running back Jack Pietruszewski. “It’s just really nice having that support when he’s going through a tough time.”

Doctors said Sam’s chances of making a full recovery are good. But he has 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy ahead of him. Still, he’s realizing that even though he’s no longer a football player, he’s still very much part of the team.

“Wow, this is overwhelming,” he said. “It brings tears to my eyes. The whole community coming out wearing orange for one guy. I don’t necessarily feel like I deserve it.”

Sam was going to the University of Minnesota-Duluth on an academic scholarship to major in accounting and economics.

If all goes well, and so far it has, he could start college this coming spring semester.

Want to donate? The address is The Benefit for Sam Hosszu, Key Community Bank, 515 Marie Ave. S., South St. Paul, MN 55075.

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