Battle with Crohn’s Disease teaches Kelly Bryant how to handle adversity, injuries


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Bryant has to take medication daily
Bryant has to take medication daily

CLEMSON – Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant has battled a concussion and a lower ankle injury in recent weeks, and both injuries have caused him to miss time. But Bryant isn’t a quitter, and he’s learned life lessons on how to deal with pain.

Those lessons were taught by Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract, and in February 2014 Bryant was hospitalized with stomach pains that he thought were related to the medications that he takes to control his Crohn’s disease.

It turned out he needed surgery to remove an infection and a second surgery to repair his small intestine. After months in recovery, Bryant found himself weighing 167 pounds – almost 40 pounds lighter than his weight at the end of the previous season.

“It was a shock. Looking at where I was, it was just like, 'Wow!' Anything can happen and change your whole idea and perspective of things,” Bryant said at the time. “I lost all of my muscles. My mechanics were a little off, because I hadn’t touched a ball in about three months.”

Bryant willed himself back onto the playing field and is now Clemson’s starting quarterback. Crohn’s is still a constant presence, but for now it’s under control.

“I’m doing pretty good. Nothing major has come up,” Bryant told TigerNet Monday. “Of course, there are little stomach pains here and there, but for the most part, I’ve been feeling well. It hasn’t affected me in any way leading up to now.”

Bryant said the attack and surgeries were a life lesson on responding to adversity.

“Definitely, because it was a moment where everything was going good,” Bryant said. “I was fresh off of my junior year and I had a good junior campaign and I was getting ready to go to camps. I was ready to narrow my college decision down and it was like, ‘Boom!’ All of it was taken away from me. It really made me appreciate who I was and who I was as a person. Now, I look back on it when I’m feeling down or things aren’t going good and I think, ‘You’re so lucky to get through that and you can get through anything that’s going on right now.’”

Bryant still takes a list of medications he says are hard to pronounce, and his diet is a concern, but he still goes about his business with a smile and a thankful attitude.

“It really doesn’t affect me. I still go on about my business like I did before,” he said. “I try not to let it affect me. I have some medications - a few pills every day - that I have to take. But I know If I can get through that whole process, there’s no injury that I can’t get through, physically and mentally.”

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