How to Become Unbreakable Devon Still TEDxPSU

[Music] [Applause] [Music] what if I were to tell you that everything you've been through or everything you're going through is preparing you for something bigger in your life what if I were to tell you that everything that has tried to break you will soon lead to your breakthrough would you believe me you see I grew up in a place called Wilmington Delaware a city that was stricken with drugs and violence it's a place where kids live by the motto live fast die young because most don't think they will make it to see a teen it's a place where a lot of people don't make it out of but I did my talent on the football field landed me over 50 scholarships to the top d1 schools in the country I ultimately decided to go to the best university in the world to play under the best coach in college football history in front of the best student section in the world just when I thought I had finally made it out that my life will be a breeze after making it out of Wilmington I faced two major obstacles that threatened to end my college career before it even begin and still my childhood dream of playing in the NFL my freshman year I was having a breakout training camp I mean I was playing so good I had a chance to play as a true freshman but during one of our practices I went chasing after the running back after he was sprinting down the sideline after catching the screen pass and when I reached out to grab him our offensive lineman grabbed my shoulder and my knee popped I tore my ACL in my MCL my breakout training camp ended just like that no longer would I be spending my freshman year living out my dream of playing in front of a hundred and ten thousand screaming fans at Beaver Stadium instead I was out for the season I had to spend a year and Rehab fighting to get back out on the field it was hard it was frustrating but I did it I made it back just in time for the start of training camp the following year and I picked up right where I left off my dreams were finally about to become my reality I just needed to make it through the last scrimmage of the training camp and I would get to experience the real thing but at this scrimmage a player was thrown into my left leg and it snapped in half I was rushed to the hospital where I had to get surgery and the doctors had to put a metal plate and ten screws in my leg how could this have happened I just spent the whole year fighting to get back out on the football field but no longer would I be spending my sophomore year living out my dreams of playing in front of a 110 thousand screaming fans and Beaver Stadium instead I was out for the season again and I had to spend a year inside rehab fighting to get back out on the football field it was hard it was frustrating but I did it after two years of hell after two years of wanting to give up on myself and my dreams I finally got my chance to play in front of a hundred and ten thousand screaming fans and Beaver Stadium and despite all the challenges I had to go through despite all the career threatening injuries I faced by the time I became a senior I was one of the best players in college football I was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in lineman of the year I became one of only 40 to Penn State players in history to be named a consensus all-american and I was drafted number 50 third overall in the 2012 NFL Draft I was living my dreams all my problems was now behind me so I thought during my second year of the NFL was one of the toughest years I've ever been through in my life during a game against the Detroit Lions I went to go tackle Reggie Bush and when I reached out my arm to grab him our linebacker came running full-speed and put his helmet right into the back of my elbow dislocated it after five weeks of rehab I was able to make it back out onto the field but a week later I blew my back out against the Steelers and I had to get season-ending back surgery a week after that I was rushed to the hospital where I almost died because of multiple blood clots in my lungs why is this to me god why do you keep punishing me I had no my life is not perfect and I know I grew up in an environment where snitching is not the cool thing to do but look I got a list of people who are living way worse lives to me you can go bother them and leave me alone after that blood clot scared my wife suggested that we start going to church maybe so much was going wrong in our lives because we didn't have God in our lives she said so I agreed we were so serious about trying to build a relationship with God and change our lives that we got baptized together I knew at this point we were as good as bulletproof now I mean we just gave our lives to God can't nothing hold us back now yes that was a double negative but we learned earlier we can use those like two months later I found out just how wrong I was after giving after accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior on June 2nd 2014 I was sat down by a doctor and told that my four-year-old daughter had stage 4 neuroblastoma a former cancer that came with a 50% chance of her dying I remember going to the chapel that night in the hospital on the first floor and I just collapsed on the floor in front of the altar I just started crying God how can you allow this to happen to my daughter when I just gave my life to you two months ago I was so confused and hurt I cried out to God asking if he heard my cries and let me know that I'm not alone and I asked him to fill that room with his presence like I heard the pastor say in church the day before and as soon as I said that the whole room started shaking it was like something that you see in a movie that you think his faith that they just added it for added drama but this this right here was real it was this as God was looking down on me telling me Devon get up get up and fight everything that you've been through in your life was preparing you for this very moment every challenges that I have put in front of you was teaching you how to become unbreakable how to become resilient you see for decades researchers believe that resiliency wasn't something that could be taught or developed they believed it was a trait that you had to be born with a trait that was reserved for a select few but I'm here today to tell you that that's not true resiliency can't be taught it can be learned and it can be developed through pain and suffering it is something that we all possess so on that day June 2nd I finally realized why I had to go through so much suffering in my life I finally realized why I had to go through so much pain because I was learning how to become resilient I was learning how to become unbreakable because now I had a 4 year old daughter laying in a hospital bed fighting death and she was dependent on her dad to come up with the game plan to help save her life so that night in the hospital I put together a playbook of all the lessons that I learned from adversity everything I used to overcome it and I walked into my daughter's hospital room I said baby daddy got a plane we're going to beat this and that playbook that was built off of pain and suffering that playbook that was filled with resiliency help my daughter make one of the greatest comebacks in oncology history and she went on to beat up cancer and she likes to say so today what I want to do is share the top five plays out of our playbook to help you become resilient to help you become unbreakable so that you can make the greatest comeback in your life the first play in this playbook is to believe believe that a better future exists for yourself believe in your vision believe in your dream and notice I said you have to believe other people don't need to believe in your vision they don't need to believe in your dream from the daily was diagnosed with cancer I made sure she believed in herself so I made her wear a shirt that said future cancer survivor all the time because I knew if she could see this vision she will do whatever she could to get to it because when you have hope for your future it gives you power in the presence to take action and make your vision become a reality so I asked you today what do you believe about yourself what do you believe about your situation the next play is to give your battle or purpose why must you overcome the obstacles you're facing in your life why must you break down the walls that are standing in between you and where you want to be I told you guys earlier I came up from a rough environment and after my two major injuries my freshman sophomore year I wanted to give up on myself I wanted to leave Penn State and go back home but one weekend I decided to go back home just to clear my mind before I made a decision and while I was there I ended up going to a party with some of my friends and at the end of this party I walked out into the parking lot and as I was walking to the car a guy that was standing right behind me ended up getting shot in the head and died in that moment when I watched him die I finally found my wife I finally realized that I couldn't give up on my dreams of making it to the NFL because I couldn't allow my family to grow up in the same environment I grew up in when one day you can be hanging out with your friends in the next day you're wearing them on a t-shirt as a memorial I had to fight through the pain for that one day my family wouldn't hurt anymore my purpose was much greater than my pain and when you know your why you will figure out a how to get to your destination the next play was to put on your game face you see I can walk around the huddle I can walk around the locker room and look players in our eyes and see if they're ready to play a game or not without saying a word to them just by the look that they have on their face and so many times I see people go attack the game of life without their game face on like they're not willing to fight for their dreams like they're not willing to fight for their life or fight for their family every time Leah had to go get chemo she had to go to the hospital for five days straight and she would get a 21 day break and then she would have to go back again but every time she got to the front door of the hospital I would stop her at the door tell her to turn around and I would say Leah game face right because I was mentally prepared her that no matter what you're about to go through in this hospital you gotta fight no matter how much pain you're away from that toxic pumping through your body you gotta keep fighting you gotta put on your game face so when you wake up don't just wake up like you don't know what you're fighting for in your life wake up like your owner mission and put your game face on the next play is to have fun the lesson I learned when I first started playing a little league football with the always had fun it was a game where we were losing to one of the good teams in our league and everybody was walking around the field with their heads down and our coach called us up in a huddle and he told us to pick our heads up and he said the moment you stop having fun it's the moment you lose the game and when he said that it hit me different because I felt like he was talking about much more than just the game of football but he was talking about life and I remember one time in particular when Lea had first got diagnosed with cancer I was sitting in my wife's living room and she had her roommate had friends over the house and somebody told a joke in the kitchen and the whole room burst out and laughter and I started laughing too but about five seconds after me laughing my brain told me to stop what could I possibly think it's so funny how could I be enjoying myself when I have a four year old in the hospital fighting death but I remembered that lesson that my little league coach taught me to always have fun so I made a decision right then and there that no matter what my daughter was going through we would continue to have fun because I knew if we stopped there would be no chance in hell of her beating this disease that's why if you followed us on social media you would see me with no rhythm dancing inside stories in public right I will be wearing wigs singing karaoke with my daughter doing anything I could to make sure she kept a smile on her face because I knew that was the only way we can win the game think about how many times we allow outside circumstances control our emotions when things don't go right in our lives we allowed to control our emotions I'm gonna tell you like I told my daughter the moment you stop having fun is the moment you lose the game and the last player of our playbook was to fight for four quarters in football we're taught no matter how tired you are no matter how much pain you're in as long as there's time on the clock you gotta keep fighting so when Lea first got diagnosed we put her into a clinical trial that doctor Start was going to save her life but after they did some testing four months later after her getting chemo and radiation they found out that the cancer had spread all over her body that I had went from just being in her hip to now was in her chest in her shoulders and her neck and even in her skull if there was ever a moment where I thought my daughter was going to die it was that moment but like I just told her I was taught to fight for four quarters and I looked at my daughter and I said as long as you're alive as long as I'm alive we're going to continue to fight two months after putting her into a new clinical trial after the cancer spread all over her body she was completely healed she was in remission imagine if she would have gave up too soon imagine if she would have gave up when there was still time on the clock she wouldn't be here today so I don't know what some of you are going through in your life right now I don't know what challenges you're facing but what I want to do is challenge you to get off the sidelines and get into the game because that's the only chance you have at winning and no matter what you're going through as long as you still have breath in your body as long as you're still alive you're still in the game it's game time thank you you