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'Positive things' help Martinez during uphill health battle

  • By NFL.com
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Tom Martinez is living proof that you can't keep a good man down.

Martinez, who has mentored Tom Brady since the New England Patriots' quarterback was a teenager, revealed two weeks ago that he had just a few weeks to live, losing battles with diabetes complications and a failing kidney. But on Saturday, Martinez was back on the football field, mentoring 35 teenagers at his 33rd annual quarterback camp in Woodside, Calif.

Boosted by an overwhelming public response to his news, Martinez told the kids that "positive things" have happened since his revelation.

"I'm feeling better, and I'm optimistic after being almost completely certain that I was going to die," Martinez told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Eight people offered Martinez their kidneys after his daughter, Linda, took to Facebook to post a message of thanks from her father to the football, softball and women's basketball players he coached at College of San Mateo. The elder Martinez was told it would be difficult to find a kidney donor, then he was told he also would need a heart transplant.

"One kid I used to coach said he would give both his kidney and his heart, but obviously I couldn't do that," Martinez said. "It was all very touching."

But then the parents of a former athlete helped Martinez -- who was receiving treatment at Stanford -- meet with doctors at UCLA, "where they're less conservative," he said.

In quick succession, adjustments were made to his pacemaker (which was implanted in March), and a blood donor was found.

"Incredible, isn't it?" Martinez said. "After my camp ends, I will go back down to UCLA for some internal tests, to see if I can handle surgery. They might try to do a double transplant if everything works."

Martinez reportedly left UCLA on Thursday and attended a workout with Brady and Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman.

The severity of Martinez' illness caught people by surprise when news of his prognosis broke in mid-June.

A melancholy Brady responded in an interview with Sports Illustrated, describing Martinez's influence over his career as "at the top of the list. Second to none."


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Said Brady: "There is no one who knows more about throwing the football than (Martinez). And no one has meant more to me when it comes to throwing the football than Tom."

Brady told the publication that he met with Martinez for a passing session one week before Martinez broke his news.

"We spent two hours there (at an indoor facility in San Carlos, Calif.). He analyzed what I was doing, just like always. And when I got in the car with my dad afterward, I said to him, 'It's unbelievable how much he knows -- how much he helps me,' " Brady said. "I just can't say enough about him, and what he's meant to me.

"When I heard how serious it was the other night, I was there in bed with my wife, and it was just a sad moment. Very tough on his family and on ours."

Martinez says he tells his proteges -- who have included John Elway, Matt Cassel and JaMarcus Russell -- they know where to find him.

"Always at the end of every kid I work with, I give them a quarter," Martinez said. "And I tell them, when you need help, you call me. I am never going to call you, even Brady, and tell you what I see because you may feel fine in what you're doing.

"If you need help, if there's anything you think I can help with because I watch every game, call me. And here's a quarter. ... Brady used his quarter, and I had to give him another one, and he used that, and I gave him a different one. JaMarcus still has his."

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