From fighting for his life to pursuing a career in the NFL, ACC Player of the Year and star Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner shares how his choice to not fear the unknown made all the difference in his extraordinary journey.

During his first two years at the University of Pittsburgh, running back James Conner became one of the Panthers’ biggest stars, breaking records and winning the adoration of fans. Then, in the first game of his junior year, disaster struck in the form of a torn MCL. During rehab, James’s health continued to inexplicably deteriorate until a chest X-ray and biopsy confirmed the unthinkable: a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Suddenly, it wasn’t just the dream of an NFL career that was in jeopardy; it was James’s life. Yet when he shared the news of his diagnosis publicly, James rallied family, friends, and fans, with his message of hope and courage: “Fear is a choice. I choose not to fear cancer.” In just ten words, James defined his own journey on his own terms and refused to back down from one of the most dreaded diseases known to man.

Drawing strength from his faith in God and the support of his community and loved ones, James underwent treatment but continued to practice with his team despite the intense physical toll of chemotherapy. He was declared cancer-free within a year. Returning to the field in 2016, he finished his college career with a record-breaking 3,733 rushing yards and 56 touchdowns. Entering the NFL draft early, his success continued. Selected in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he quickly became one of the most beloved rookies in the league.

In Fear is a Choice, James candidly shares his experiences during his battle with cancer and beyond, encouraging readers and illustrating the spiritual truths and personal principles that got him through his darkest days. Conner’s warm, intimate, and inspiring story offers wisdom and advice for anyone who has faced adversity or the loss their dreams—and everyone who wants to learn how to tackle life’s problems with dignity, faith, and determination.


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