Player shares journey from cancer to turning heads on field

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 11:42 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Friday we headed out to Aquinas High School where junior offensive and defensive tackle Duncan Johnson is lucky to be alive today. That’s because he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer as a child. We have the inspirational story behind beating his illness and capturing the attention of college scouts.

When you were three years old it was probably hard to remember almost anything. But for Johnson the memories weren’t always good.

“I remember some things. I don’t remember much but I do remember some good memories, some bad,” he said.

The bad ones seemed to stick out the most for the Johnson family.

“It was in my lymph nodes, I had a tumor in my stomach and in my pelvis,” he said.

At the age of 3 Duncan was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

“They didn’t know if I was going to make it to the hospital,” he said.

That’s where doctors told Duncan he wasn’t going to make it.

“It really puts everything into perspective,” he said.

Now the 6 foot 4, 200 pound offensive and defensive tackle is starting to turning heads at the college level.

“It makes me realize how blessed I really am that I could get through that and I can get through most other things,” he said.

His family says if it wasn’t football Duncan wasn’t doing it.

“One of the most dedicated kids I’ve coached,” said James Leon, head football coach, Aquinas High School.

That’s not only because he beat cancer but because he leads by example for everyone on the team.

“Knowing what he went through at such an early age and to overcome that and become the great athlete he is and also the great kid that he is, it just tells you what kind of person he is,” he said.

The kind of person who’s going to put his head down, work hard, and hit someone hard.

“Really it helps me keep going and it makes me realize its not that bad and I can do a lot more,” said Johnson.

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