Ezekiel Elliott calls it the reason he plays.
Providing inspiration for a young cancer patient from Massachusetts since his rookie season three seasons ago has stayed with the Dallas Cowboys’ running back. Elliott became that inspiration after receiving a social media message from Jake Silver’s sister Halle back in ‘16. She was hoping to enlist the Ohio State alumnus for some encouraging words to her then 16-year-old brother battling cancer.
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Elliott replied and provided that inspiration by phone and by wearing a plastic cancer awareness bracelet that reads “Silver Strong” on his wrist during every game since.
“I’ve had communication with his family over the past few years and it’s been rough for him, so I just wanted to be able to do everything I can to help make things easier for him and help out,” Elliott said.
Elliott still wears the bracelet, including during Sunday’s 40-7 win against Jacksonville. And for the first time, Elliott was able to inspire Silver and his family in person. Elliott invited Silver to the game and visited with him at a hotel on Monday.
“You never really realize the effect you’ve had on people. Just the most touching thing,” Elliott said. “His mom was telling me about how he was having a really rough day going through his chemo, really intense chemo, and he was just not in it, wasn’t feeling good. I think we started texting that day and his mood just flipped 180. That easily, his day was made better and that’s special. That’s very special to me and you know I’m blessed to be able to even have that effect on people.”
For Elliott, he’s not just providing inspiration for Silver, but getting it back in return.
“It’s kind of why you do it,” he said, referencing a message from his former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to be someone’s shining light. “Sometimes it may seem like you’re not really doing much, just stopping and shaking someone’s hand, taking a picture, but that stuff really means a lot to fans. So whenever you get a chance to be someone’s shining light, you take that opportunity.”