Chiefs safety Eric Berry talks personal style, cancer battle at Ed Block Courage Awards

For The Baltimore Sun
At the Ed Block Courage Awards, Chiefs safety Eric Berry talks how fighting cancer has changed his life focus.

For Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, 27, personal style goes beyond a great fashion-forward look. It's also about empowerment.

Take, for example, his phase of wearing all black through mid-May. The Atlanta resident, who was in Baltimore this month for the Ed Block Courage Awards gala, says it's a way of keeping him focused. This comes after having been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in December 2014, going through treatment in the offseason, then going back to play this past season after being declared cancer-free.

"Last year at this time, I was getting chemotherapy. I was in and out of ICU. That wasn't by choice. Now, I'm doing this by choice," Berry said. "The same focus that I learned last year — how to beat cancer and how to battle adversity — I'm using it now to reach my goals."

Berry said some of those goals came from realizations he's had in the last year.

"I just want to be the best Eric I can be every day. If you just go every day with being the best person you can be, I feel like you're accomplishing something," he said. "When you go through certain things, you understand it's not about outside factors. The real battle — it comes from within. You take that battle and you conquer things within you, then you realize that nothing outside of you really matters because there's nothing inside of you that can stop you."

Berry said being voted his team's recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, as well as spending the weekend in Baltimore interacting with kids at a recreation center and a center that helps children with emotional and behavioral needs, confirmed that renewed mission in life.

"Man, this weekend was special to me. … Even at this event tonight, I met three cancer patients. [With] them seeing me, I hope I can inspire them to keep pushing," he said. "Meeting all the kids yesterday and today, the same look I had in my eyes when I had cancer, I see it in them. I just want to be able to help them. Even if it's one word, one sentence or one gesture that makes them say, 'You know what? I can make it.' I think it's one of the best feelings you can ever have. That was my goal."

HIS STYLE: "Very focused and very determined. … There are subtle little things that you won't notice unless I tell you. I think that's pretty cool. But I feel like your style reflects your personality. … Even with all the stuff I've been doing this weekend, it's been all black. Nobody probably noticed," he said with a grin.

HIS ENSEMBLE: Black dress shirt, black tie, black cotton knit fitted short blazer, and gray and black striped pants — all custom-made by Kansas City mens clothier Tom Paolini ("I work with him a lot," Berry said). Prada black lace-up shoes. David Yurman ring.

SHOWING OFF HIS SENSE OF HUMOR: Berry often sports fun socks. That night they were black and white striped and polka-dotted from happysocks.com. "That's one way I like to show my personality," he said. "In football, you can't really show too much because you have a uniform. So underneath my cleats I always have [on a crazy pair of socks]."

MORE STYLE STRENGTH: His MyIntent Project bracelet that was a gift. It reads "Block" and "Tackle." — "Whatever you're dealing with, it helps you conquer it. Mine is blocking and tackling, which [are] the fundamentals of football," he said. "I just want to focus on the fundamentals of life and just deal with that."

HIS THOUGHTFUL, AS WELL AS TRENDY, TUX: Berry was wearing a custom-made tuxedo by Tom Paolini when he was presented with the Comeback Player of the Year Award at the NFL Honors awards show on Feb. 6. "It was almost a plum; a deep purple. I felt like I has taking a bit of risk with it, but I got some good feedback on it. I didn't care if it was bad feedback because that's what I felt. Also, purple is my ribbon color [for Hodgkin lymphoma awareness], so I wanted to stand out with that."

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