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story.lead_photo.caption Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill delivered box lunches to nurses at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., last week. Hill, whose mother is a nurse, said he wanted to nd a way to give back during the coronavirus pandemic.
(AP/Chris O’Meara)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The steady stream of nurses filing out of St. Luke's Hospital for close to an hour was finally slowing down, which was fortunate because the young man with thighs like tree trunks was running out of food to give them.

It may have been the most impressive thing Tyreek Hill had done since running 2-3 Jet Chip Wasp.

The Pro Bowl wide receiver, who caught a 44-yard pass at the end of that route during the first week of February to spur a Super Bowl comeback for the Kansas City Chiefs, had been talking to his mother about how much the world had changed. Hill has not run another route since that night in Miami because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"My mom, she's actually a nurse," Hill said, "and she always comes home and talks about how some people don't care about them risking their lives every day. So I was like, 'Mom, maybe there's something I can do here in Kansas City for the health care workers, you know?' It can be small. It can be big."

So, they came up with the idea of delivering food to St. Luke's last week. The little boxes of sandwiches were a welcome improvement from their usual fare, but it was the delivery guy behind the white mask that made the moment so special.

It was special for Hill, too.

Just over a year ago, the record setter was a league-wide pariah. He had been suspended by the Chiefs and the NFL after audio surfaced on the night of the draft in which his then-fiancee accused him of hurting his 3-year-old son. The district attorney launched an investigation, the Kansas Department for Children and Families became involved, and the odds appeared no better than 50-50 that Hill would ever step foot on an NFL field again.

"It was hard," Hill said the week before the Super Bowl. "I'm not going to lie."

The nightmare eventually turned into a positive outcome.

First, the district attorney declined to press charges after he was unable to determine who caused injuries to the child. Then the league lifted its suspension and the team followed suit -- not only welcoming Hill back for training camp but finishing up the details of a $54 million, three-year contract extension.

Hill proceeded to break his collarbone in Week 1 against Jacksonville, but that was merely a four-game sidetrack on what turned out to be another sublime season. He caught 58 passes for 860 yards and 7 TDs. He helped lead dramatic comebacks in each round of the playoffs. And ultimately, he caught a pass at the end of the now-famous 2-3 Jet Chip Wasp to help the Chiefs win their first Super Bowl championship in five decades.

"I mean, I just feel like I'm blessed with being able to play the game of football," Hill said. "My job is just to win. I want to win. I've always been part of a winning culture. I've always been taught team is first. There is no 'I' in team."

That's another reason he was so keen to deliver food to front-line workers: For one day, Hill wanted to join their team.

"Me and my mom talk a lot about giving back," he said. "That's the way I was raised."

With the world gripped by the worst pandemic in generations, he's spent more time than he thought possible with his four kids: baby twins, a 1-year-old and his 5-year-old son. He's getting a room added onto his house, the hammering providing the staccato-like soundtrack to a Zoom call last week. He's financially secure -- his whole family is, for that matter -- and he's a Super Bowl champion.

"It's been great. I've had a chance to have all four of my kids, which is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," Hill said. "It is fun. It's challenging. But it's also like a process of me bettering myself, so I'm enjoying it. Every step of it."

Sports on 05/19/2020

Print Headline: Chiefs' Hill turns things around

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