Saturday night was a night to remember for Savannah State’s fans, and the entire SSU football team.
After 2 years, 24 straight losses, the Tigers finally brought home a victory.
One of the stars of that game, a Sophomore running back named Josh Berry, who totalled up 89 yards and his first collegiate touchdown.
Its a dream he almost didn’t realize after a doctor’s visit 4 years ago.
“He told me i had Leukemia a form of cancer and it just flew over my head,” said Josh Berry. “The first questions i asked him was i’m not going to be able to go to school or play ball anymore. I didn’t get the hints of the cancer. I finally broke it down and was like wow this is stuff people die from every day. But i didn’t let it get me down.”
Just 15 years old then, Josh Berry came face to face with his own mortality, and decided to fight back.
The weeks of chemotherapy, and experimental arsenic treatment, which would break down most people, were just another hurdle for Josh.
“During my chemotherapy i was doing all my major exercises,” said Berry. “Running, stuff like that lifting, whatever i could do.”
“(I was) hardheaded, basically. Mom was telling me I can’t do this or that. in my head i’m saying no i have to, Im not going to stop doing this. She had her reasons, and I had mine.”
His reason, to get back on the field, back to being a normal teenager.
But that wasn’t easy. He missed almost all of his Sophomore and Junior year. Coming back just as the season ended.
“You remember that first carry?”
“I think I only got like three yards on that carry,” laughed Josh. “I was just like wow, shoot, i’m back.”
Back and better than ever.
All that hard work translated into touchdowns. 13 in his Senior season. Along with almost 1300 yards rushing for Long County High School.
“I made the most of my opportunity because I could not have been there,” explained Josh. “I could have been in a worse situation or still in the hospital. But I guess God had a plan for me and his plan was for me to be back on the field.”
Those plans got him a scholarship, taking him to Tiger stadium, and a Savannah State uniform.
“Thats what really helped me get to where I am, thinking I could not be here right now.,” Berry says. “I’ve got to make the best of it while I’m here.”
Josh is making the best of it. Playing. Surviving. Thriving.
“Being positive and not thinking its as horrific as it can be. keep your eyes on your goal which is being healthy,” are Josh’s words of wisdom.
Josh gives credit for his recovery to the “one stoplight town” of Ludowici as he calls it. Where he lives and loves.
People there raised thousands of dollars to help pay for treatment.
Before the Florda A&M game, Josh guaranteed me – that Savannah State would beat the Rattlers, just like he’s going to beat cancer.
While he hopes to keep playing football at the next level – josh’s goals aren’t limited to the field. He is studying Criminal Justice and wants to be in the FBI or DEA someday.