Undrafted Rookie Fullback Excels Despite Being Deaf; Inspires Local Sisters

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Seattle Seahawks player has overcome incredible odds to reach the biggest game of his life — the Super Bowl.

Now he’s bringing a special pair of twins along for the ride.

Imagine that you play in front of the loudest fan base in the NFL, affectionately called the “12th Man.” It has broken records for high decibel levels inside CenturyLink Field.

Now imagine that you can’t hear the fans. You have to feel them.

“I always feel it. I mean, it’s on the earthquake meter. Who doesn’t feel it?” fullback Derrick Coleman told CBS 2’s Otis Livingston on Thursday.

Coleman has been deaf since the age of 3, and has had to rely on his hearing aids, vibrations and reading lips to understand what’s being said to him. He said it has been a struggle to show the naysayers he could succeed in life.

“A lot of ups and downs, a lot of tears, a lot of madness and everything, but at the same time, though, I definitely got a lot out of it. It made me who I am today,” said Coleman, an undrafted free agent out of UCLA. “

Coleman said he was also aided by something his mother taught him at an early age.

“Whenever there are people that try to bring you down, just ignore them. Don’t really listen to them. Turn your hearing aids off. Walk away,” he said. “You always want to surround yourself with people that want you to succeed; people who are pulling you up to the top.”

And now that he’s at the top, as in he’s in the NFL one win from being a champion. He said he’s trying to bring others with hearing impairments with him.

Enter Duracell batteries and an inspirational commercial that features Coleman.

“They want to inspire people and children to achieve their dreams in whatever they do. That’s what I wanted to do,” Coleman said.

Coleman certainly inspired 9-year-old twins Riley and Erin Kovalcik of Roxbury Township, N.J., who have worn hearing aids since they were babies.

After seeing the Duracell commercial, Riley decided to write a letter of solidarity to Coleman, which her father tweeted a photo of. Well, it reached all the way to the Pacific Northwest, where Coleman responded in a handwritten letter that said in part, “Even though we wear hearing aids we can still accomplish our goals and dream.”

“To write her a quick note was fantastic, and I couldn’t hope for anything else,” said the twins’ father, Jake Kovalcik.

“When I get that letter, I’m definitely framing that and keeping that,” Coleman said.

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