Journey Brown is sharing the heartbreaking news of his retirement from football due to a newly diagnosed heart condition.
The Penn State star running back, 21, revealed on Facebook Wednesday night that he had been "diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which will force me to medically retire from the game of football."
"The pain of not being able to play the game I love anymore hurts and I can't explain how I am feeling right now," Brown said. "However, I can walk away from the game knowing I truly gave my all at every practice, on every down and in the locker room every day."
According to Mayo Clinic, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy "is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied). The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood."
The group says that "in a small number of people with HCM, the thickened heart muscle can cause shortness of breath, chest pain or problems in the heart's electrical system, resulting in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or sudden death."
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Brown also recalled in his announcement the very beginning of his love for football, in fourth grade. "Back then it was a game I played for fun, but when I was a sophomore in high school, my life changed, and I fell in love with football," he wrote.
"All I could think of was when can I play, how can I get better, what can I do to be a better teammate, and at that moment, football became less of a game for me and more of a lifestyle. That lifestyle put me in position to be blessed to have a chance to play football at Penn State," the athlete continued.
"My first year here was rough at times, but when you love the game of football as much as I do, you put your head down and work through scout team, Lion's Den and the waiting and watching. I finally had the opportunity to showcase what I was born to do and, hopefully, set myself up to achieve my life-long dream of playing in the NFL," Brown went on.
"Unfortunately," he said, "the dream will never be realized" due to his condition.
Brown, a junior, began his college football career at Penn State in 2017, playing in eight games in 2018. In 2019, during his sophomore year, he started in 10 out of 13 games and made 12 touchdowns, rushing for 890 total yards. Brown also played a major role in leading the school to victory at the 2019 Cotton Bowl Classic, going on to be named MVP after rushing for 202 yards — a Penn State record for a bowl game.
Brown had been off the field this season leading up to his announcement. His condition was "discovered through a routine COVID-19 test" in September, "although it is not COVID-related," Penn State head coach James Franklin said, according to ESPN.
"We've been working through this and dealing with this as a team. Journey is one of the most popular and respected players on our team," Franklin added. "The entire organization has rallied behind Journey and his family."
The player ended his heartfelt statement on Wednesday by reflecting on the experiences he has had in the sport and expressed gratitude for everything football has given him.
"You never know when you will play your last snap, but I know I left it all out there and have no regrets, other than wishing I could step on the field one final time," Brown said. "I won't miss the game of football because it will always be a part of me."
"Thank you to my family for always supporting me, especially during these difficult past few months. Thank you to my teammates, my brothers. Thank you to my coaches. Thank you, Meadville," he concluded. "Thank you, Penn State. Thank you to everyone who believed in me. Most importantly, thank you football!"
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