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How the Loss of His Mother Inspired Dak Prescott to Advocate Cancer Education

How the Loss of His Mother Inspired Dak Prescott to Advocate Cancer Education
Published On: Thu, Oct 19
Oct 10, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert (35) wears pink cleats in honor of Cancer Awareness month during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium. The Bucs defeated the Panthers 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott is holding a silver marker in his right hand and standing over a table covered in piles of No. 4 Cowboys jerseys. Its two days before a home game against the Packers, and this 24-year-old is staying late at work on a Friday afternoon, signing his name over and over.

He doesnt mind; his only concern is when his hand slips and his signature zig-zags off the blue number on one jersey. Hes wondering if he should try to fix it? Dont worry, a team staffer quickly assures him. There are plenty more. With a few piles down and several more piles to go, Prescott shrugs. This is easy, he says.

This unflappable attitude has distinguished Prescott ever since he arrived in the Dallas area, the fourth-round draft pick who was thrust into a starting role in the first game of his pro career, and played so well that he couldnt be taken off the field even after Tony Romo returned from his back injury. Prescotts second season has presented different challenges, a 2"3 start after last years 13-3 record, but the pressure of being the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys doesnt compare to the conversation he had in the summer of 2012 before his redshirt freshman year of college: His mom, Peggy, broke the news to her youngest son that she had Stage 4 colon cancer. If youre not tripping, Prescott replied, Im not tripping.

Peggy Prescott succumbed to the disease in November 2013, just as her sons star on the football field was taking off. After her death, he would catapult Mississippi State to the No. 1 ranking for five weeks during the fall of 2014, and hed earn the most important job in Dallas, where he changed his jersey to No. 4 in honor of Peggys birthday. If you know anything about Prescott, you almost certainly know about his mom. Thats how Prescott wants it to be.

He was his moms greatest motivation during her battle against cancer, as Peggy looked forward to the trips to Starkville, Miss., for home games, even as she lost her hair from chemotherapy and was weakened to the point of needing to be pushed into the stadium in a wheelchair. In turn, Peggys memory underlies everything her son does, from the notes on his phone he writes her the night before games to his openly sharing with a stranger the fact that hell be getting an annual colonoscopy starting at age 40 and has considered doing genetic testing to assess his own cancer risk.

After my mom got sick, she told me, Allow me to be your story. All the greats have a story, Prescott says. At that time I was like, Hell no, I don't need a story if that means my mom is sick. But fast forward, and that's what I'm going to do. Because that was her"I wouldn't say wish"that was moreso her command to me.

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