Pittsburgh RB battling cancer to throw out first pitch of MLB season

Pitt running back James Conner is staying pretty busy just months after a cancer diagnosis.

Pitt running back James Conner is staying pretty busy just months after a cancer diagnosis.

Pitt star running back James Conner, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in December, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch when the Pittsburgh Pirates open the MLB season by hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on Sunday.

"I'm honored and thrilled to throw out the first pitch for the Pirates' season opener and I want to thank everyone in the organization for this incredible invitation," Conner said. "It has been a long time since I played baseball but I'll make sure my arm is ready to throw a strike on Sunday. The Bucs' road to the World Series begins this weekend and I can't wait to be at PNC Park."

Two months after his diagnosis with Hodgkin's lymphoma, the standout junior was back practicing with the Panthers, flying through drills despite battling through chemo treatments just days earlier.

In 2014, Conner was selected the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year after rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns. He missed most of the 2015 season due to a knee injury. However, he still had quite a presence around the Pittsburgh community. He was honored as a member of the prestigious Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, a select group of football student-athletes who have made a positive impact on others and their communities. Conner spent time with Children's Hospital, Mel Blount Youth Home, the humanitarian organization World Vision as well as the National Kidney Foundation, which honored him with its 2015 "Small Hands Big Heart" Award.

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