A little over one year ago, Jaylon Vela was a middle school football star with a promising future on the gridiron. He had the game of his young life in a big victory for San Jacinto Intermediate, but the touchdown he just scored this week might be the most emotional one in Texas youth football history.
A few days before school ended this past spring, following a sensational seventh-grade season — one that saw the running back rush for 313 yards on just 16 carries with five touchdowns for the A Tigers over Park View Intermediate at Tigers Field in Pasadena, Texas near Houston— Vela was diagnosed with bone cancer and his right leg was amputated to stop the cancer from spreading.
That never stopped Vela from dreaming of another chance to play the game, and it came true Monday night against Southmore Intermediate at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Trailing by 14 points with 2 minutes, 34 seconds remaining, Vela finally got his chance to find the end zone on a special play nobody could stop.
Lined up in his wheelchair in San Jacinto’s backfield, Vela took the toss from quarterback Andrew Aguilar to the left and his younger brother helped roll him nearly 50 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit.
What a moment.
“About two weeks ago, he came to one of our games and I mentioned it to him. He said, ‘yeah’, he’d like to play again,” Tigers head coach Ryan Nygaard told the Houston Chronicle. “So coach (Eric) Lewis and I have been friends for a long time and we talked about it last week and again yesterday. If the situation presented itself, he was all in. The kids were all in.”
Nygaard told the newspaper the cancer has spread to Vela’s lungs and had surgery nearly two weeks ago to help clean one lung. Another surgery will be required in the coming weeks.
No matter what the final numbers were on the scoreboard after the football game, this was a win for the game of life and it was incredible to see Jaylon Vela score one more touchdown for the San Jacinto Tigers.