Pitt RB James Conner announces he's cancer free after inspirational fight

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James Conner in the green room before his appearance on Ellen in April. Pitt Athletics

After undergoing chemotherapy treatments during spring practice, inspirational Pittsburgh running back James Conner announced Monday that his body is free of cancer.

"God is AMAZING," Conner wrote on Twitter. "Just got the call that my body is clean of cancer!!! Been a long road but God had my back. Thanks everyone who said prayers!"

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi also released a statement through the school celebrating Conner's recovery and the news that he was cancer free.

"Over the past six months, James Conner fought cancer the same way he plays football: relentlessly and without surrender," said Narduzzi. "He has inspired and touched so many people in how he has handled this challenge. James is an incredibly special person, and I'm not even thinking about his football ability when I say that. Everyone at Pitt feels blessed to know him and we are tremendously thankful for the wonderful news he received today."

Conner's battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma has been one of the most incredible stories of the 2015-16 offseason. The 2014 ACC Player of the Year suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first weeks of 2015 then announced his cancer diagnosis in December. On that day, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi called Conner into his office to share a letter he received from a former player of his father, Youngstown State's Bill Narduzzi. The former YSU player was from a Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor and had received advice from Bill, battling the same disease at the time.

Narduzzi's father died from Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1988 at the age of 51 but the Pitt coach passed on his father's advice on to Conner through that letter.

"He called me into his office and we actually sat down and went through that letter," Conner said, recalling the day of his diagnosis announcement. "It's very unique that his dad, one of his players ... it's the same thing.

"It's crazy how life works."

Conner refused to alter his workout routine or goal of returning to the football field in the fall. Having just turned 21 in May, Conner balances the many demands of his life with a maturity that suggests he's been of age for years.

"Really, it's just time management, taking everything day by day," Conner told CBS Sports earlier this month. "I knock a treatment out of the way, wait a couple days, and I'll be working out and stuff. It really hasn't been that difficult -- school, treatments and working out. If I get some free time, I like to come back to Erie."

Conner wore a mask while working out during the spring for protection as his treatments lowered his white blood cell count and made him more prone to getting ill. Outside of that mask and the no-contact rules, it resembled any other spring for Pitt's star running back as he eyes a return to the form that saw him run for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2014.

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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