October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the NFL has been taking part for several years, most noticeably by allowing teams to accent their uniforms with the color pink. In terms of actual awareness of breast cancer, perhaps no football player has been more acutely affected as the Steelers’ DeAngelo Williams, who lost his mother and her four sisters to it.

So when his team hosted several breast cancer survivors before its game against the Jets on Sunday, Williams wasn’t about to miss an opportunity to share a moment with the women. He walked over to the sideline and gave them heartfelt hugs.

The phrase in the tweet above comes from pink T-shirts Williams recently had made, proceeds from the sales of which go to his foundation, whose mission is to combat breast cancer by, among other endeavors, providing women with free mammograms. “It’s not just a color, it’s a culture for me because of the family I lost to this disease and the people, the extended family I have met, survivors, friends and family members,” Williams said prior to the game.

In a recent post for The Players’ Tribune, Williams detailed how his mother and aunts learned that they carried a mutated gene that gave them a high chance for breast cancer. The experience was awful for him and everyone in his family, as his aunts began dying, one by one, but it also gave him renewed admiration for his mother, who in 2014 was the last of the women to fall and who battled the disease for several years longer than her doctors expected.

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Here is some of what Williams wrote:

“That’s what I want people with cancer — and people who know others who are battling cancer — to realize: Cancer is empowering.
“You have a disease that you didn’t contract from anybody else, and depending on how you deal with it mentally and how you attack, you can get busy living, or you can get busy dying.
“You have a decision to make, and there’s no in between. There’s no, Eh, I’ll fight it today but not tomorrow. You either thrive, or you survive. My mother was the epitome of thriving. She lived.
“And she still lives on to this day.”

During the game Sunday, per the Steelers’ website, some of the breast cancer-related items included “special game balls with pink ribbons, pink kicking tees, pink coins for the coin toss, pink apparel worn by players including cleats, wristbands, gloves, sideline caps, chin straps and quarterback towels.” The NFL won’t allow Williams or any other player to wear pink all season long, so the 33-year-old running back does what he can by dying some of his dreadlocks that color.

Williams also did what he could before the game to show his support for the cancer survivors in attendance. There was plenty of pink handed out in Pittsburgh, but the most meaningful offerings were his hugs.

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