You don’t have to be a football fan to appreciate running back Rashad Jennings. Formerly a player for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and New York Giants, Jennings has left Monday night football behind to dazzle on Dancing With the Stars.
Though he is a millionaire, life hasn’t been easy for Jennings. Growing up, his father was distant and an alcoholic. Jennings recalls being an “overweight, chubby, asthmatic kid with these big red rim glasses.” His asthma was so severe that he eventually ended up “on my deathbed in the hospital with an asthma attack” as Jennings describes it. After getting out of the hospital, he confronted his father about his smoking and drinking. His father came back at him saying, “Do you think you’ll honestly be able to make it to the NFL without drinking and smoking yourself?’ ”
That was the day that Jennings swore he would never smoke or drink to prove his father wrong. At 32 years old, he has kept that promise to himself. That promise ended up saving his father’s life, as his father was inspired by Jennings’ transformation into a football star to give up smoking and drinking. Jennings gave up his college football scholarship to Pittsburgh so that he could return home and go to a closer school in order to take care of his father after his leg was amputated due to diabetes and a stroke.
In a recent performance on Dancing With the Stars, Jennings performed to Katy Perry‘s “Unconditionally” with his partner Emma Slater, an emotional performance about his relationship with his father. The dance earned 10s from all judges except for Len Goodman, who gave him a nine. It even drove judge and former dancer on the show Julianne Hough to tears.