MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In 2010, Gophers wide receiver Connor Cosgrove was diagnosed with leukemia.

It was a diagnosis that changed his life, but in a way that he’s working hard to make is for the better.

And now he’s being honored for it.

“I will always remember the moment that it happened,” he said. “I can picture it right now. My two doctors over there in the corner with my mom next to them, my dad by my side, and after a couple of days of them telling me I definitely didn’t have any sort of cancer, they come in with the worst news they can give. And I just promised myself that I wouldn’t cry in front of them from that moment.”

In the years since, Cosgrove has done a lot of other things instead. He goes to chemotherapy every month, he’s taking college classes, and he’s poured himself into cancer-related causes.

“No amount of hate or anger is going to change what happened to me,” he said. “And once I was able to get to that point, I think life became so much more enjoyable, and I’ve been able to give back now.”

In the midst of all that, Cosgrove suffered a setback. Many of his bones died from lack of blood, and will eventually need to be replaced.

“Until then, I thought I was going to play football again, and then that kind of just sealed the door,” he said. “So in a way it’s given me some closure with some things.”

It’s a long time now since he practiced with the team, but Cosgrove’s still very much a part of it. He’s even still listed on the team’s official roster. It’s a gesture that’s, of course, purely symbolic. But it means the world to him.

“And it may seem like a small thing, like, my name’s on a roster, and I have a locker to go to on game day,” he said. “But in the coping stages, that’s something that has helped get me through.”

Coach Jerry Kill said Cosgrove’s a tremendous example of toughness.

Cosgrove once thought he wanted to be a football coach. Now, his plans are to coach others through their cancer.

“To know you’re not alone in your fight, and to know that others are out there, and others are going through what you’re going through, I just want to be that for somebody,” Cosgrove said. “Even if it’s one person.”

It’s that attitude that makes Cosgrove the recipient of this year’s Courage Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

“I remember the moment when they told me, I was just in tears,” Cosgrove said.

Tears are what he promised he’d never do. But tears of joy are different.

“This isn’t going to beat me,” Cosgrove said. “I’m not going to let this be who I am. And it’s definitely changed me — I think for all the better. I wouldn’t change a single thing knowing what I know now.”

Cosgrove’s leukemia is in what’s called Rapid Early Remission — a very positive sign.

In the meantime, he’ll continue chemo treatments until Jan. 13, 2014.

David McCoy


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