Count it all joy, Part I: ASU WR Michael Jefferson II battles through father’s bout with cancer

Reprinted from the Montgomery Advertiser

Count It All Joy is a three-part series that unfolds the struggles of two Alabama State football players as their parents battle the life-threatening disease. These circumstances would hit these two players at a time when life is already hectic.  

Clinging to the youth football championship trophy he had just won and the joy that comes with any victory, Eleven-year-old Michael Jefferson II (MJ) followed his mom through the front door of their home in Mobile, Ala.

MJ’s Cottage Hill Steelers had just beaten the Municipal Raiders 12-6 in the Youth Bowl. The ASU receiver was a champion, and he couldn’t wait to tell his dad when he got inside the house.

That day, MJ’s father, Michael Jefferson Sr., stayed home. He wasn’t feeling well.

After Constance Jefferson, MJ’s mom, put her key in the door and turned the knob to enter their home, fear stood in the threshold, greeting her and MJ and stealing any highs of triumph that came with MJ’s championship win.

There lying on the floor in writhing pain was Jefferson Sr.

“I remember him asking for help, and telling us to take him to the hospital,” MJ said.  “I should have stayed at home. I shouldn’t have gone to the game.”

That was November of 2010, right before Thanksgiving, Jefferson Sr. said, earlier that year he had been diagnosed with leukemia. Jefferson Sr., at the age of 43, had just been released from UAB Hospital in Birmingham after undergoing chemo treatment and hadn’t been home long before he started having pains in his stomach.

“When they got home I was at the front door,” Jefferson Sr. said, “because I couldn’t call anybody. I couldn’t make it to the phone. “(MJ) walked through the door with the championship trophy, because they sent him home to me.”

The trophy was a gesture of good faith and a get-well-soon token for Jefferson Sr. that became lost in the present circumstance. Clostridium difficile colitis, a stomach infection, was crippling Jefferson Sr. and it was spreading into his colon.  The infection had attacked his immune system.

“It was scary,” Constance said. “Especially when you don’t know what’s going on.”

Constance didn’t waste any time getting Jefferson Sr. to an emergency room, but because she brought him in and not paramedics, they sat there, time wasting, a dreadful situation nearing life-threatening status.