Daniel Rodriguez, an army veteran with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, recently received the 2014 Armed Forces Merit Award from the Football Writers Association of America. Its hard to believe that it was not too long ago the military veteran had a gun to his head while contemplating whether or not to take his own life.
When most of us think about Thanksgiving, we also think about a long weekend of professional and college football. That's why we thought it would be the perfect time to share the inspirational story of combat veteran Daniel Rodriguez and his journey from the battlefield to the football field playing special teams and wide receiver for the Clemson Tigers.
Daniel Rodriguez served in the Army from 2006 through 2010 and saw action in Afghanistan in 2009. He was wounded in what was determined to be deadliest battle of the war that year. That battle with the Taliban killed 8 soldiers and wounded many others - including Rodriguez.
When he returned home he often found himself questioning why he lived and others didn't. He took different routes to the store each day as he feared his vehicle would be struck by an IED. At one point, he had a gun to his head and almost committed suicide.
It was memories of his late father - also an Army veteran - and a promise to a deceased friend that he would follow his dream to play football which gave Rodriguez purpose. That purpose led him to be invited to walk on at Clemson University at age 22.
He has been a leader and producer on the football team. In fact, he has appeared in 35 consecutive games with the Clemson Tigers. His impact on the field, the team and its players earned him the 2014 Armed Forces Merit Award.
When discussing Daniel Rodriguez, his head coach Dabo Swinney said (his) “presence has helped the team, and he never forces his leadership. It has really made the team appreciate our military, and realize that there are a lot more problems in the world than our third-down conversion rate.”
What an inspiration for each and every one of us!
Here's a clip from a CNN story on Daniel Rodriguez which includes actual combat footage from the deadly battle that injured Rodriguez and killed his best friend. The military veteran has also written a book titled "Rise" and there are rumors of a movie based on his life being in the works as well.Other Articles
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