Human Interest

Born a micro-preemie, Seattle Seahawks player Derick Hall tackled and beat the odds

Looking at Derick Hall now, a 6’3″, 254-lb. linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, people might be amazed to discover that he was born as a 2 lb. 9 oz micro-preemie.

Hall’s mother, Stacy Gooden-Crandle, recalled in an article posted to the Seahawks website: “He was born at 23 ½ weeks, and it was a scary, scary time. Me being a 26-year-old, single mother, I didn’t know what to expect, what to think, and the doctors were saying that, if he lived through the night, he’d be a vegetable.” He was reportedly given a 1% chance to live and had to be resuscitated at birth. 

Because of Hall’s extreme prematurity, he dealt with severe health issues as an infant, including a brain bleed. He was placed on life support for a week. But Hall’s mother was persistent and fought for her son’s life.

Though Hall’s mother was told many times that her son would never do the things other children do, even if he survived the preemie growth stage, Hall says his mother chose courage instead of fear. “She just said, ‘OK, if that’s what I have to deal with, that’s something I’ll deal with.’”

Hall explained that his mother was also told during her pregnancy with him that her own life was at risk.

“She sacrificed a lot of things for me to get to where I am today,” he said. “I’ll be forever grateful for her for the things she did in my young childhood all the way up to where I am today. They said it was either her or me from the jump, before she even had me, and she said if she had to pick, it was me.” 

Growing up, Hall wanted to play football, but had many lung and immunity issues along the way. When he played football, the coaches, referees and others nearby were supplied with inhalers just in case Hall needed them. “I’d go out for five plays, then I’d have to sit out for 20 minutes, because my body couldn’t keep up,” he said.

Large groups of friends were also a no-go due to illness risks. But football allowed Hall a loophole to socialize with kids his age. Hall explained that his mother was a large part in his football success as she pushed and protected him in every way over the years to ensure he was “given the opportunity to be successful.” 

Over the years, Hall climbed the football ranks, graduating from Gulfport High School in Mississippi, then going on to Auburn University, and then being selected to play with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. It was because of the support of his friends and the strength of his mother that Hall says he was able to do it all.

The moment he made it to the NFL was a proud one for Hall’s mother. “It’s a moment I’ll relive in my head forever. I still pinch myself sometimes and say, ‘Is this my baby?’” she reflected. She also told the Daily Mail, “I would never have imagined God would have such a great future for him, especially athletically. He was always smart, a straight-A student. It’s so amazing. He was always a hard worker. I knew he had determination and grit. He had a goal, and with God’s help he got there.”

To honor his past, Hall now wears cleats featuring the Derick Hall One Percent Foundation for the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats. The foundation donates its proceeds to families and babies struggling with preemie diagnoses, childhood obesity, and food insecurity. 

Hall remarked, “They say never forget where you come from, never forget what you’ve been through to get where you are… I’m truly humbled, and every opportunity I get, I’m like, ‘Man, I’m really sitting here in the NFL.’ I wake up every day with a smile on my face. It’s a blessing. Less than one percent get the opportunity to play the game at this level. It’s truly amazing.” 

Just like Derick Hall, every life deserves the chance to thrive. Even in the face of life-limiting diagnoses, there is hope. 

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