NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As a star defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons, Tim Green has tackled his share of big things.

But it was nothing compared to having to tackle cancer in his family.

Green, already a New York Times bestselling author, is now writing about his experience. But if you’re expecting to hear a first-hand account of the story, think again.

As he explains, Unstoppable, his tenth work of fiction, crosses genres.

“It’s a sports story to a certain extent, but really it’s a story about family,” Green said.

At the beginning of his creative writing career, he wrote books about sports to encourage young boys to read. He would write about athletic heroes. But the hero in his latest work is inspired by his wife, Illyssa, who has fought cancer.

“Five years ago my wife was diagnosed with cancer. It just shook everyone, my whole family, to its foundation,” Green said. “She had just had our youngest son. You think about what that’s gonna be like if she doesn’t make it.”

Green choked up as he spoke about the impact his wife’s diagnosis had on him.

“To play in the NFL, you have to be incredibly tough, mentally and physically,” he said. “But what i saw my wife go through, between  the surgeries and the chemotherapies and the rehabilitation, and what that did to her and how she fought, I thought, ‘that’s a hero. That’s a toughness.'”

For the complete interview with Green, check out the video below.