Foster High School senior Addison Marshall might have been the smallest person on the stage, which featured an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, a former NFL running back, three college football coaches and the four finalists for the Houston Rotary Lombardi Trophy, which is given each year to the nation's top collegiate lineman.
But his words, which represented his own struggle, as well as the struggles of the other "Front Line Kids" in attendance, made him a giant in the eyes of those in attendance.
"Addie" spoke to the audience at the 42nd Rotary Lombardi Award, December 7, in the Reliant Center. He was among about a dozen young cancer survivors in attendance at the ceremony. Texas Children's Cancer Center and M.D. Anderson Children's Cancer Center are among the charities receiving funds from the event's proceeds.
Addison thanked the four finalists - University of Alabama stars Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw, Stanford's Jonathan Martin and Luke Kuechly from Boston College, who won the award - for visiting the children's hospitals, spending time laughing and taking photos.
"These players have taught me to pay it forward and to reach out to newly diagnosed kids, as I know how scary this new reality can be," he said.
Marshall credited Hurricane Katrina, which taught him that there can be a positive side of a natural disaster, teaching him to maintain a positive attitude.
"Cancer may steal many things in your life, but it can't touch the power of football and what the sport has taught me," Marshall told the audience. "This year I was blessed with the opportunity to be back on the field and practice beside my lifelong friends in the Texas sauna we call 'two-a-days.' This is a privilege that I will never take for granted. I'd like to thank my coaches and friends for never giving up on me and keeping my dream alive of playing (Foster) Falcon football.
Marshall closed by saying that life is good, even if it doesn't always go as planned.
"(Life) teaches you to be grateful and have faith that there is a plan that maybe we can't necessarily understand right now," he said. "That's why you should always play until the whistle blows."
Addison closed the evening by opening the envelope and reading Kuechly's name to those in attendance and to a national television audience. He is also a semifinalist for the High School Rudy Award, which "celebrates inspirational young athletes who embody the values of character, courage, contribution and commitment through the sport of football."
Go to highschoolrudyawards.com for more information and to vote for Addison.
Foster High football coach Mark Wiatrek with Addison Marshall
Jim Kelly and Addison: NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and Addison
Lombardi finalists and Addison: Back row is Valerie Marshall, Addison Marshall, Austin Marshall and dad, Jack Marshall. Front row is Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama, Don't'a Hightower, LB, Alabama, Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College (winner) and Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford.