PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Derrick Coleman has never found out why he lost his hearing. His father says that Coleman first had trouble picking up sounds at the barbershop when he was 3 years old. Despite the disability, Coleman made it to the NFL. He spent his off day sharing his story with the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf.
“I always preach to the kids, ‘Hey, you’re not alone,'” said Coleman, who’s in his sixth NFL season. “Everything you’ve gone through, I’ve been through, I’m nobody special. I’m just somebody who wanted to work hard, wanted to have fun, wanted to succeed in life. Definitely some ups and downs, definitely some bullying, teachers not believing in me.”
Coleman is the NFL’s only deaf player, and just the third in league history. He wears hearing aids under his helmet for the Cardinals. He’s mastered the art of reading lips. The Cardinals fullback spent the afternoon working the up and down the bleachers at the Roadrunners school pep rally.
“I didn’t have anybody to look up to. It was just me. Nobody else in my family had hearing loss, neighborhood, nothing,” said Coleman. “People saw that I needed more attention. People said, ‘Something’s not right with him. I don’t want to associate with him.'"
The 28-year-old was able to use that frustration as motivation. Coleman told the kids about a conversation he had with his dad, where he asked why winning the Super Bowl didn’t feel like the ultimate achievement.
“It’s about the journey, not the destination,” said Coleman.
“It’s always been my dream to meet you.”Powerful scene at Phoenix School for the Deaf. @AZCardinals Derrick Coleman hosting a pep rally. Coleman is the @NFL ‘s only deaf player. #AZFamily pic.twitter.com/IM2zTWixnC— Mark McClune (@MarkMcClune) November 27, 2018
For students, the chance to see a deaf NFL player up close and personal was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I’m actually really shocked,” said PCSD senior Maddie Fears, through a sign language interpreter. “I think it’s awesome that a Cardinals player is coming here and being able to represent that here at PCSD. We feel connected to them as a community.”
Coleman has played twice as long as the average NFL player and has a Super Bowl ring from Seattle. He will continue to share his message of hope with whoever will listen. It’s a message that resonates with any audience.