After recovering from a rare and almost fatal disease, Nigerian-born defensive tackle Amobi Okoye is back in the NFL.
Okoye first was identified to suffer from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune syndrome that causes brain inflammation, in 2013 and it caused him to fall into a coma and suffer a 145-day memory gap that not only threatened to end his NFL dreams but also almost cost him his life, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Okoye has been cleared medically by the Dallas Cowboys, who signed him in May (with no guaranteed money or signing bonus) and hope to — amazingly — see him on the field in their third preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.
A former first-round pick of the Houston Texans who showed signs of early dominance before his career tailed off, Okoye last played in an NFL game in 2012 with the Chicago Bears. A few months after that, at the start of free agency in 2013, he suffered from a series of seizures in his hometown of Houston. He had just finished a workout and was with his father, Augustine, when Okoye started to convulse.
Okoye continue to suffer from seizures in three different hospitals, losing his speech in the process, and eventually was placed in a medically indcued coma in an intensive-care unit. It was there that the results of a spinal tap revealed Okoye’s rare disease.
Although Okoye emerged from his coma in July of 2013, he had lost most of his ability to speak and had dropped 78 pounds. Okoye has no memory of anything from March 15 to Aug. 7 of that year. After being released from the hopsital last August, Okoye needed to relearn basic human functions.