Browns rookie OL Shon Coleman watched draft with cancer patients

Cleveland Browns rookie Shon Coleman took his draft-night party to a special place.

While some draftees held their get-togethers with family and friends and others flew to Chicago to be cheered on a stage, Coleman watched at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital with the patients.

Coleman is a cancer survivor, and on draft night he wanted the other kids in St. Jude's to see that he had come through the fight -- and reached his dream.

"It was big-time for me to go back and reach out to kids and let kids see that moment," Coleman said. "That's big in their lives, and to just let them know that they can always chase their dreams."

Coleman spent his afternoon visiting the patients, trying to provide a smile -- even sitting down to do arts and crafts together. He found that his mood was lifted by the other patients.

"It was awesome," Coleman said. "They had a great time. I had a great time with them. When they look at me, I am like Superman to them."

Coleman is a soft-spoken big guy of whom Browns coach Hue Jackson said, "We love everything about the young man."

The Browns picked Coleman in the third round at No. 76 overall. He started at left tackle at Auburn the last two seasons and will compete to replace Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle in Cleveland.

Coleman was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in 2010 shortly after he signed to attend Auburn. He said he felt ill and his lymph nodes "popped up," so he was tested.

"That's when we found out," he said. "From there, that's when I had to get through the whole thing if I wanted to play football again. Getting from Point A to Point B was pretty much the only thing on my mind."

Coleman said at the NFL scouting combine that the initial diagnosis was given to his mother, who then told him. Many cancer patients say that their most difficult day is when they learn the diagnosis, which Coleman said was true for him.

"My mom, she was very upset about it," Coleman said. "There were plenty of days where it was a bad day or whatever from the side effects of the medicine and all that. At the end of the day, just getting through it was the whole deal."

The National Cancer Institute's website says that ALL is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Because it's acute, the disease progresses quickly. The Mayo Clinic reports that it is the most common type of cancer in children, and though it's treatable with a high rate of success, treatment is difficult.

Coleman went through 30 months of treatment, including chemotherapy, bone marrow aspiration every eight weeks and spinal taps, all of which kept him away from football for two years. He now is in remission, though he will be retested every five years.

Because Coleman is from Memphis, he was 15 minutes from St. Jude's, the renowned children's hospital, so he was able to have treatment there.

"They did so much for me," Coleman said. "I'm always down to give back."

Given what Coleman went through, it was probably tough for him to try to explain, in one draft-night phone call and one news conference with five fellow Browns draftees, where he was and where he is.

He did his best, though.

"It has taught me to be patient and whatever opportunity gets thrown my way, take it and run with it," Coleman said. "That's what I did last year. I had the opportunity to come in and be a great player at Auburn, and I took it upon myself to work every day, to work at this and work at that just to perfect my crafts."

At the combine, he phrased his lesson slightly differently.

"There's a lot of young kids that went through the same things I went through that look up to me," he said. "They are also an inspiration to me. My engine is still running to let people know you can beat the odds and dreams never fade."

In the midst of treatment, Coleman appeared at the 2014 draft on behalf of St. Jude's to announce the Rams' first-round pick. As he left, commissioner Roger Goodell looked at him and said: "I know I'll see you back here in a couple of years."

"Faith brought me a long way, and just having support from my family and the fans and everything," Coleman said. "It was really hard having to work out and things like that while doing treatment, but at the end of the day, I found a way to do it, and that's why I am sitting here right now."