Former University of Tennessee star Eric Berry looked at home when dealing with and teaching the kids who look up to him on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
The Kansas City Chiefs safety was cracking jokes, cutting up and connecting with the youth at the Sansom Sports Complex during his Knoxville Legends Football Camp.
The kids hovered around him, trying to get as close as possible to the four-time Pro Bowl selection.
But it’s not just his stardom and renowned status for big hits and playmaking ability the kids he and his team coach at his annual camp admire.
Berry, who was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year last season, overcame Hodgkin’s lymphoma and aims to spread the message of hope to those who look up to him.
After being diagnosed in December of 2014, Berry fought the disease and was able to return to football last season. He finished his treatment in May 2015, was declared cancer free a month later and was back at practice in July.
“I think the biggest thing that award meant for me was that it meant so much to the people around me. You don’t go through something like that and get to that point by yourself — I had a lot of support and a lot of help from fans, teammates, family, friends,” Berry said.
“I just wanted to be an example. When you are put in a situation where it is life or death or something you don’t totally agree with, you can come out on top.”
While Berry stays busy, returning to Knoxville for the camp is very important to him.
“This is where it started,” said Berry.
“I was in the same shoes as these guys having that dream and wanting to make it to the league.”
Berry had plenty of help for the free event, which hosted several hundred area kids.
That team included a host of local high school coaches as well as former Vols, including cornerback Justin Coleman, who this week signed an exclusive rights free agent contract with the New England Patriots.
Current Vols Khalil McKenzie, Chance Hall, Cam Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and Evan Berry were also there.
“Dealing with the kids, that is always something we had a passion for,” Eric Berry said. “Making sure they are doing the right things for their passion and the game they love.”
Berry said he tends not to listen to predictions when it comes to football, but he has high hopes for younger brothers Evan, Elliott and the rest of the Vols next season.
“Talent-wise and seeing how close that team is and how much chemistry they have, it is a beautiful thing to watch,” Berry said.
“Seeing how that translates on the field, I am excited to see how it happens.” TNS