Jenks High School football player is honored by team after beating cancer
JENKS, Okla. (KTUL) - Over the years, Jenks High School has had many football heroes, but their latest hasn't been on the field for about a year. Jackson "Jacks" Lilly is a 17-year-old who's beaten cancer with chemo, radiation and ten surgeries.
To celebrate, Lilly rang the team's "personal-best bell" to mark his return to team activities. That bell is usually rung when a player hits a personal best at weightlifting, but Lilly's achievement is on another level. He walked through a double line of his teammates as they clapped and cheered him on his way.
Lilly said his friends supported him the whole way.
"They were all there for me. I had a couple of best friends that were there for me that were with me all summer. But, definitely, when I was diagnosed, the whole football team was there."
With all that Lilly's been through, it's not surprising he will need some time to get himself back into shape, but the team is now involved in off-season training and that's what it's all about.
His coaches said they're happy to have him back.
Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Jordan Johnson said he's touched by what Lilly has accomplished.
"That's the ultimate personal record for him. He was with us all through football season, on the sidelines with no hair, going through chemo," Johnson said.
While the spring workouts are hard, they’re easier than beating cancer.
Lilly said that after a battle with lymphoma, you get a new perspective on life and the people who really care for you.
"When you're sitting in a hospital bed doing chemo, you don't have a lot of time to hang out with your friends," Lilly said. "So, it's still the people who are on your phone and you contact. Those are the guys you like to see."
While they're not ruling out full contact this fall, the coaches say Lilly will get back to it as soon as he feels up to it.
Lilly is a Junior at Jenks, so he has two more seasons to take the field.