Having grown up in Joseph’s Home for Boys, DeAngelo Tyson has always said he was raised by the city of Statesboro. The former Statesboro High and University of Georgia football standout is now hoping the city that helped raise him may also help him as he faces the toughest challenge of his young life.
The 32-year-old Tyson, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens, was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and is not only battling his illness but is also going through financial issues as well.
Between his illness and doctors' visits, Tyson lost his job at Lowes. His wife Shabrae, who is also from Statesboro, had to care for Tyson and accompany him to his many appointments. Her time away caused her to lose her job working at a doctors' office near the family’s home in Snellville.
“I had some symptoms, but I just ignored them,” Tyson said. “I had experienced weight loss but just thought that had to do with not playing football or training anymore. I then started having severe stomach pains that lasted throughout the night. My wife encouraged me to see the doctor and I finally felt bad enough that I listened to her.”
The doctors tested Tyson for what they thought was Crohn's disease. A colonoscopy revealed that Tyson had a malignant tumor and surgery was scheduled.
“The doctors told me my cancer was stage 3b and that I would need chemotherapy,” Tyson said. “I had an MRI this week to see if the cancer had spread into my liver. They found a spot but I won’t know the results of that until Tuesday when I go in to start my chemo.”
If the spot on Tyson’s liver is found to be cancerous, he will have to go through radiation therapy in addition to his chemotherapy.
Reaching out for help
Facing many costly treatments and neither spouse working, the Tyson’s eventually decided to reach out for help thanks to the persistence of fellow Statesboro and UGA teammate and NFL All-Pro Justin Houston.
“I’m a very quiet guy and asking for help is not something that comes easily,” Tyson said. “Justin Houston and Darius Newberry who also played at UGA with us came over and talked to me. They both know what kind of person I am and that I don’t like to ask for help, I am more of a giver. They really pushed me to ask for help.”
Houston and Tyson have been friends their whole lives. They played in middle school, high school and college together and Houston helped convince Tyson he should reach out for help.
Through his former teammates’ encouragement, Tyson started a GoFundMe page which he shared on social media this week. The link allows people to make a donation to help with family expenses as well as medical bills.
Another UGA football contact who reached out to help Tyson is former head coach Mark Richt. Richt recently revealed he is battling Parkinson’s disease but has tried to bring awareness to what Tyson has been going through and has tried to get him help using social media.
“I talk to Coach Richt quite a bit,” Tyson said. “We are on a group text, and he has really done a lot to try and help me out. He has a lot going on himself, but he is a good man and has always been there for his former players.”
Coach Steve Pennington
Locally coaches and teammates have reached out as well, including former Statesboro High coach Steve Pennington.
“Certainly, our hearts and prayers go out to DeAngelo for what he and his family are going through,” said Pennington, who coached Tyson and Houston on Statesboro’s 2005 state championship team. “Through his athletic background we know he is a competitor and there is no doubt in my mind he will fight his way through this.
“I know DeAngelo is a quiet man, but desperate times call for desperate measures,” Pennington said. “I am sure he reached out not for himself but for his family. Pride doesn’t come before family and cancer doesn’t only attack the person with it but their entire family as well.”
Tyson’s family, which includes five children, has obviously had a hard time dealing with his diagnosis as well with much of the load coming on Tyson’s wife Shabrae.
“The hardest part is watching someone who does so much for everyone else not being able to do especially physically,” said Shabrae Tyson. “The older kids are learning to cope, and our younger ones still don’t really realize what is going on. They are having to adjust to having to help out more, as are we. We are very private people, so it’s been hard, but we are also so grateful for everyone who has reached out or helped us financially.”
Anyone who would like to donate can go to GoFundMe and search DeAngelo Tyson or you can make a cash or check donation at any Synovus bank location in the Bulloch County area under his name. For more information on a local donation, contact Kim Brannen at Synovus bank at 912-489-9276.