The story of how JJ Birden ended up playing football in the NFL is one of dogged perseverance and self-belief. Birden was always an athlete, starting out as a track star and advancing to the Olympic trials. He also wanted to play college football; but there was a problem. At 5'10" and 150 pounds, he was considered too small. His coach helped him realize his dream of playing football.
Leah Still, daughter of Devon Still, defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, was the recipient of the 2015 Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the the ESPYs in mid-July. Leah was not well enough to attend, so her father accepted the award on her behalf. The award was given to Leah in recognition of her perseverance in waging war against cancer.