Univ. of Minnesota football player, cancer survivor inspires a nation with first game appearance

Minnesota Golden Gophers punter Casey O'Brien (14) holds the ball for an extra point kick during a game against Rutgers Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Piscataway, N.J. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)
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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (WTHR) — There was a touching moment Saturday night as Rutgers University hosted Big Ten rival Minnesota.

Minnesota redshirt sophomore and four-time cancer survivor Casey O'Brien was on the field for the first time in his college career, holding for an extra point attempt.

The kick was good, and his teammates joined him in celebration.

O'Brien has beaten a rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma four times, undergoing 14 surgeries since he was 13.


O'Brien never gave up his dream to play college football, and neither did Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck, who shared an emotional hug with O'Brien after he made his debut.


After the game, Fleck said, "He's an unbelievable person, and he's been through an awful lot. When you think courage, you think Casey O'Brien."

On Twitter, O'Brien said Fleck was the only coach in the country to give him a chance.


He called the game a "moment of a lifetime."

"No one can ever take away that he played college football in the Big Ten," Fleck said.