Aaron Donald knew a cancer diagnosis wouldn't stop James Conner from making the Pro Bowl

At one of his lowest moments, Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner received an encouraging message from a friend. Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer 2015, Conner got a text message from Aaron Donald that turned out to be prophetic.

The 23-year-old Conner revealed that message Tuesday. He had a good reason for doing so.

Donald told Conner the running back would not only beat cancer, but that he would go on to make “about 7 pro bowls and a couple All Pro” teams.

Conner accomplished one of those things Tuesday, making the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon and Denver Broncos running back Philip Lindsay were also named to the team.

Donald and Conner overlapped at the University of Pittsburgh for one year. Donald went on to be the No. 13 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. He developed into a superstar with the Los Angeles Rams, but still kept tabs on his college teammates.

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) lines up behind center during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. The Steelers won 17-10. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Sean Davis (21) and Coty Sensabaugh (24) during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) calls the crowd to action as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) huddles his team during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. The Steelers won 17-10. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. The Steelers won 17-10. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) and New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) get in a shoving match during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (23) intercepts a pass intended for New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
New England Patriots running back James White (28) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Sean Davis (21) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels (38) is tackled by New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks to reporters during the news conference after an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 17-10. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
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Conner missed most of the 2015 season after undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was able to return in 2016, and played well enough to get drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft.

After sitting behind Le’Veon Bell during his rookie season, Conner got a chance to shine in 2018. With Bell holding out, Conner has rushed for 909 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in 12 games. He’s also caught 52 balls for 467 yards and a score.

That performance was enough to get Conner to the Pro Bowl once. In order to live up the Donald’s prediction, Conner will have to do it six more times.

Conner seems up to that task. In his Instagram message, he notes that he knows there are “more to come.”

 

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