By Shirley Hawkins
Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, 23, has become one of the most inspirational players in the National Football League after the deaf player was featured in a popular Duracell commercial which has since gone viral.
The Los Angeles native, who has been deaf since the age of three due to a genetic and incurable hearing impairment, is the first legally deaf offensive player signed to the NFL. Coleman taught himself to read lips despite having to wear a hearing aid.
“Being deaf, being hard of hearing is who I am, so I’m not going to let someone else come in here and say, ‘Oh, you’re deaf,” said the former UCLA player who is gearing up to play the Super bowl. “That’s who I am. It made me who I am today,” said Coleman.
Coleman’s inspiring Duracell commercial caught the attention of 9-year-old Roxbury, New Jersey native Riley Kovalcik, who struggles with hearing issues along with her sister Erin.
Riley penned a letter to Coleman and asked her father, Jake, to send it to Coleman. The letter read; “Dear (my [sic] inspiration) Derrick Coleman. I know how you feel. I also have hearing aids. Just try your best. I have [sic] faith in you.”
Riley’s father, Jake Kovalcik, sent the letter to Coleman via Twitter.
Coleman, obviously touched by Riley’s words of inspiration, responded the next day.
“Really was great hearing from a friend I have so much in common with,” Coleman wrote. “I want you to know that I always try my best in everything I do and have faith in you and your twin sister too. Even though we wear hearing aids, we can still accomplish our goals and dreams.”
Coleman then invited Riley and her family to get together and play some sports and games if they are ever in the Seattle area.
Jake Kovalcik said that Coleman’s response has truly inspired and motivated his girls. “I’m running out of words to express my gratitude for all off this,” Kovalcik wrote on Twitter. “Derrick is just an amazing person #hero.
“He has inspired my daughters but it’s a great thing he’s doing not just for the hearing impaired kids or kids with other disabilities, he’s showing all kids that if you work hard and you dedicate yourself whatever deficiencies you have, you can be great. I wanted to thank him,” Kovalcik told MailOnline.