Is Jim Kelly Still Alive? A Legend of Football and a Survivor of Cancer

Jim Kelly, a renowned figure in the realms of football and fortitude, stands as one of the all-time great quarterbacks. His illustrious career saw him leading the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls during the 1990s. Beyond his on-field prowess, Kelly’s resilience in battling cancer, overcoming the disease three times, serves as an inspiration to millions. This blog delves into Jim Kelly’s extraordinary journey, detailing his remarkable football career, his tenacious fight against cancer, and his current status.

Jim Kelly’s Football Career

Born on February 14, 1960, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jim Kelly’s athletic prowess shone through early on in East Brady, excelling in football, basketball, and track and field. His collegiate football journey at the University of Miami showcased his quarterback skills, earning him the Offensive MVP title in the 1981 Peach Bowl and setting various school records.

Drafted in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, Kelly initially opted for the United States Football League (USFL) with the Houston Gamblers. His two-season stint with the Gamblers saw him clinch the USFL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in 1984, along with setting multiple league records. Upon the USFL’s fold in 1986, Kelly joined the Buffalo Bills, becoming their franchise quarterback. His leadership of the “K-Gun” offense propelled the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993. Despite the losses, Kelly’s impact resonated, earning him five Pro Bowl selections, a first-team All-Pro in 1991, and the NFL passing touchdowns leader in 1991. His retirement in 1996 solidified his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, inducted in 2002.

Jim Kelly’s Cancer Battle

In 2013, Jim Kelly faced a pivotal moment with a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma, a head and neck cancer. Surgery successfully removed part of his jaw and teeth, and by July 2013, he announced being cancer-free. However, setbacks occurred in March 2014, leading to chemotherapy and radiation. Remarkably, Kelly announced his second cancer-free status in August 2014. The battle persisted with a third occurrence in March 2018, requiring surgery, jaw reconstruction, and immunotherapy. His triumphant announcement of being cancer-free for the third time came in January 2019.

Throughout this arduous journey, Kelly’s strength and optimism stood out. Crediting his faith, family, and fans for unwavering support, he used his platform to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Honors such as the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2018 ESPY Awards and the NCAA Inspiration Award in 2018 recognized his courage and philanthropy.

Jim Kelly’s Current Status

As of 2021, Jim Kelly continues to thrive, living in Buffalo, New York, with his wife Jill and their two daughters, Erin and Camryn. Tragically, his son Hunter passed away in 2005 due to Krabbe disease, a rare genetic disorder. Dedicated to honoring Hunter’s memory, Kelly established the Hunter’s Hope Foundation, focused on education, advocacy, and research for Krabbe disease and other leukodystrophies.

Engaged in football and the Buffalo Bills, Kelly hosts an annual football camp for kids, actively participates in Bills games and events, and serves as a mentor to the current Bills quarterback, Josh Allen. The legend of football and cancer survivor, Jim Kelly, stands as a beacon of inspiration, proving that with faith, family, and fans, nothing is insurmountable.

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