Edward “Drew” Rodrigue III (1981-2009)
"Over the years, Drew Brees has signed countless jerseys, footballs, and photographs, but one jersey made its way into the giant heart of my late husband Drew Rodrigue. It simply stated, 'To Drew, Stay Tough, Love, Drew', yet it provided hope, courage, inspiration, and resiliency for years to come.
Drew was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2002, and succumbed to his disease on August 15, 2009. Throughout his battle, Drew endured chemotherapy, radiation, two stem cell transplants, and eleven clinical trials. Drew was only twenty years old and a junior at the University of Alabama at the time of diagnosis, yet spent the next seven years earning his degree. He enrolled every semester, yet there were times he had to take medical leaves and travel to MD Anderson for treatment. He never gave up, and subsequently attended Loyola University in New Orleans, St. Thomas University in Houston after his home flooded in Hurricane Katrina, and finally the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. With all these life transitions, one thing remained constant, and that was his passion for football. Drew was a full back for five years at Jesuit High School, and was Academic All-State in 2000. While receiving a stem cell transplant at MD Anderson, he received a visit from his running backs coach, Robert Toomer, who at the time was coaching high school football in the Houston area. The two remained close, and Coach Toomer offered Drew the opportunity to come and coach with him when Drew was ready. In 2007, Coach Toomer became the head coach of Abbeville High School in Abbeville, LA, and gave Drew the running backs and special teams coaching position. Since Drew had not yet finished college, the position was voluntary; however, Drew jumped at the chance to pursue his occupational dream.
Drew moved to Lafayette, LA, and enrolled at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He went right to work creating a Saints room in his home, equipped with black and gold painted walls, fat heads, and the signed jersey. His family and I would drive down every Friday to see him on the side lines, wearing a headset, and watch him in his glory. Drew was still undergoing treatment, and would periodically coach these games with chemotherapy being administered from a back pack he wore during the games. As visible as this was, he never let his players see him weak, and used this as a motivational tool that anything is possible, and cancer wasn't going to dim Friday night lights.
After nine years of dating, Drew and I were married on April 18, 2009. Once we returned home from our honeymoon a week later, Drew began running high fevers and we were in and out of the hospital. On August 7, 2009 Drew was admitted to MD Anderson, and would pass away on August 15, 2009. Throughout this week, we had friends and family travel from all of the country to see him one last time, yet Drew never uttered the words good bye. He remained brave and strong told everyone he would see them soon. As for school, Drew had two classes remaining. With persistent phones calls, we spoke with the dean and he was able to have Drew's teachers average his grades, which qualified him for graduation. Somehow we managed to find a cap, gown, and make a diploma, and on the night of August 14, 2009, with his friends and family surrounding him, Drew graduated from college.
Drew's life was spent believing the notion that cancer would not win each day. He endured side effects that made him feel weak, but that wasn't going to stop him from laughing, coaching, and encouraging young men that no matter what life hands you, you can live your dream. Please let this be an example, although Drew was not cured of his disease, contributions to research and supportive services, enables individuals, like Drew, to live longer and play harder."
(Narrated by Drew's wife, Mary Kathryn Rodrigue)