Tevin Coleman fulfills a mentorship role with the Jets. He’s the veteran in a running backs room otherwise occupied with teammates still on the rookie contracts.
But when he returns home, that’s when true leadership must show face.
Coleman and his wife, Akilah, both carry sickle cell traits. Their daughter, Nazaneen, suffers from sickle cell disease — a condition where red blood cells carrying oxygen inside the body become crescent-shaped and cannot pass through small blood vessels. It’s a near-and-dear challenge of Coleman’s life he is starting to reveal.
“I have the trait. I have sickle cell trait and my daughter has the full thing. She has sickle cell disease. It’s definitely hard to go through that and see your daughter in pain every day,” Tevin Coleman told ESNY earlier this week.
“But as a father, my job is to protect her at all costs. And I try to do that every day just by staying positive with her and just making sure that she stays positive through having sickle cell.”
Coleman and his family have a platform to raise awareness of sickle cell disease, which can cause strokes, acute chest syndrome, bacterial infections and learning disabilities. They’ve partnered with Global Blood Therapeutics and Sickle Cell Speaks to spread the knowledge of this disease and how to respond to it.
“We actually wanted to get involved with sickle cell, but it was just really challenging to figure out exactly what type of platform and how we wanted to go about it,” Akilah Coleman said. “If you know someone is looking for resources, [SickleCellSpeaks.com] is a great place to start because it can be overwhelming. Like when you get to process the information that you just received that your child has this disease and then you have to find that community that works for you.
“It’s just kind of a one-stop-shop to figure out — we call it our “playbook” — so we basically put together a playbook that fits our family. We have a unique situation traveling back and forth and things like that. But we focus on staying positive with preventative care, being proactive in her care, staying in the know, doing our own research, having those updates with doctors.”
Tevin and Akilah both plan to advocate for proper care in regard to this disease — it’s one of their main goals with the aforementioned partnerships.
A hope is families dealing with sickle cell disease can have access to the required resources and potentially create their own “playbook,” so they can best combat this medical hardship.