Newark Teen Uses Football To Overcome Health Issues, Loss Of Mom


NEWARK, NJ — A Newark teen has battled his way through serious medical conditions, three strokes, depression and the loss of his biological mother using football as a light to guide him through the darkness.

Recently, Jasier Rollins was named as one of the finalists in the 2020 Heart of a Giant Awards.

USA Football’s Heart of a Giant award – presented by the New York Giants and the Hospital for Special Surgery – pays tribute to Tri-State area high school football players who demonstrate “unparalleled work ethic and passion for the game.” Learn more here, and vote for 2020 nominees here.

According to USA Football, here’s why Rollins earned a nod as a finalist:

“Jasier Rollins turned to Weequahic High School’s football team during his health issues and his depression. At the age of nine years old, Rollins was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. At the age of ten, his biological mom passed away. This caused Rollins to go into deep depression, as well as suffering three strokes. High blood pressure and severe weight gain followed. At 16 years old, Rollins found his way onto Weequahic High’s football family. ‘Going through everything was hard, but then I came across Weequahic’s football team – I felt loved. All of my teammates and coaches pushed me hard to be great and overcome a lot of things,’ said Rollins. Rollins believes playing football for Weequahic not only helped him with his health issues and his depression, but helped him find a football family as well.”

The Newark student-athlete speaks more about what inspires him – on and off the field – on the USA Football website. He writes:

“Things started getting hard and difficult when my mom died when I was 10. I was going through deep depression. I started eating a lot, gaining a lot of weight, and then I started going through health issues at a young age and still once I got older. Then I came across the Weequahic High School football team. I felt loved by all of my teammates and coaches pushed me hard to be great and overcome a lot of things. Playing football for Weequahic helped me a lot with my health issues and my weight and depression.”

The voting period for nominees is now open until Oct. 18, at 11:59 p.m., with the final vote tally determining who will be named the group’s finalist. Overall, there will be 11 total finalists, and each finalist will receive $1,000 for their high school’s football program, with the grand prize winner’s school getting an additional $4,000. The grand prize winner will be selected based on video submissions stating why they have the Heart of a Giant.

If Rollins emerges on top in this year’s voting, it will be Newark’s second straight victory.

In 2019, Duane Coleman of Newark, who was diagnosed with autism and battled depression due to being overweight, used his life experiences as fuel for the gridiron. He lost 100 pounds and gained a new self-confidence along the way.

“He’s thriving in school and his community,” his coach said. “Duane’s life is better today because of football.”

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