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Football: Coach Hud surprises cancer patient with football photos of late father

Staff Report, The Advertiser, August 27, 2014

Click here for video. Ragin’ Cajuns Head Football Coach Mark Hudspeth recently surprised Timothy Cotton, a 12-year-old local who has cancer, with football photos of his late father, Kenyon Cotton, who played for the Cajuns in 1992-96. Video courtesy of UL Marketing.

Timothy Cotton, 12, has always loved the gridiron and the game.

His passion comes from his late father, Kenyon Cotton, who played for the Ragin’ Cajuns from 1992 through 1996.

"I wanted to play football and be like my father," Timothy says. "I really look up to him, and he was really good on the team."

Last year, Timothy played for his middle school team, and he was hoping to make the cut again this year.

But on June 30, his family received grim news. Timothy was diagnosed with a rare form of stage three Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

"He has to go through heavy chemo," his mother, Kenni Thomas, said. "And it really was a blow to our family."

Timothy is holding onto hope and holding onto the rope through his battle with cancer.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Head Football Coach Mark Hudspeth invited Timothy and his family to watch the Cajuns practice recently.

Timothy had no idea that Coach Hud would call him onto the field and explain his dad’s Ragin’ Cajun legacy.

"He’s the fifth leading rusher or all-purpose yards in school history," Hudspeth said. "And he had such a great career. I know so many people thought so much of him."

The father of Cajuns Defensive Back Montrel Carter played football with Timothy’s father, so it seemed only appropriate that Carter present Timothy with photos of Kenyon Cotton playing for the Cajuns.

"On behalf of the team," Carter said, "we want to present you with these precious memories of your daddy, and we hope you cherish them as much as Cajun Field did."

As the pictures were presented, Timothy’s family became emotional. Timothy had never before had photos of his father playing for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

"I was surprised and happy all at the same time," Timothy said. "This is one thing I’ll never forget."

Timothy’s optimism and smile are helping his family push through the healing process.

"He’s the one going through this, and he’s positive," his mother said. "Why should we be upset?"

Timothy’s determination and strength are also inspiring the Ragin’ Cajuns.

"When it comes to stories like this," Hudspeth said, "these guys are walking the same walk that he walked, playing on the same fields that he played, dressing in the same locker room. These guys are carrying the same torch that Kenyon carried."

As Timothy completed several drills with the team, he thought about his goal of becoming a Ragin’ Cajun.

Hudsepth says after Timothy kicks cancer’s butt, he has a great chance of following in his father’s footsteps.

"We know he has a great bloodline," Hudspeth said. "And if he continues working hard, great things will happen."