Kenechi Udeze's willpower

June, 30, 2008
6/30/08
6:33
PM ET
Kenechi Udeze
Udeze
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Talking to Kenechi Udeze about leukemia brought to mind an anecdote that illustrates his will to overcome physical challenges.

Udeze entered the University of Southern California as a 360-pound lineman, and his weight continued to climb during his redshirt freshman year. Coaches suggested he cut some weight if he wanted to continue his career, and Udeze responded by dropping more than 100 pounds. Eventually, he became a sculpted 281-pound defensive end.

With newfound speed and endurance, Udeze capped his college career by leading the nation with 16.5 sacks in 2003. He would have been a top-10 draft choice in 2004 if not for a shoulder injury; the Minnesota Vikings ultimately selected him with the No. 20 overall pick.

During an interview over the weekend, Udeze was asked whether he thinks about the weight loss achievement as he fights leukemia.

"I'm looking at this as an even greater physical transformation," he said.

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