Derrick Coleman

Derrick Coleman is a football player known for overcoming deafness to become a champion fullback for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.


Derrick Coleman was born in Los Angeles in October 1990 and was diagnosed with a serious genetic hearing disorder when he was three. Overcoming what would become deafness, Coleman became a star football player in high school before going to college at UCLA and playing for the Bruins. Although he wasn't drafted upon graduation, Coleman was picked up briefly by the Minnesota Vikings before finding a home with the Seattle Seahawks. The third deaf player to ever reach the NFL, Coleman is the first to play in the Super Bowl. He was a part of the Seahawks winning Super Bowl XLVIII team in 2014.

Early Years

Derrick Lamont Coleman Jr. was born on October 18, 1990, in West Los Angeles, California. When he was three years old, his parents took Coleman to a medical specialist who told them that their son was essentially deaf in his left ear. Hearing in his left ear went first, and the majority of hearing in the right ear was gone by the time Coleman was in elementary school. He began wearing hearing aids, which changed his life in two ways: He could hear again, and some kids at school began targeting him as an object of ridicule for the oversized devices he had to wear.

As he got older, his response became more and more to ignore the taunts and to retreat to his weight set at home and work out.

Seeds of a Football Career

When Coleman entered seventh grade, he wanted to start playing organized football, and he begged his parents to let him. His mom was a nurse and she was resistant to let her son hit the gridiron, worried that his hearing aids would come out of his ears during the game or, worse, that a hit could make his hearing even worse. On the other hand, Coleman’s dad was pushing to let him play, thinking that football could be a great outlet for Derrick and give him a better shot at being a “regular” kid.

In the end, the family’s pediatrician ran an MRI and concluded that football wouldn’t damage Derrick's hearing any further. Before Coleman know it, the once-shy kid getting picked on for his hearing aids was the kid making more tackles than anyone else on the field.

High School and College Football

Coleman went to Troy High School in Fullerton, California. A standout player, Coleman was named team MVP and first-team all-league as a senior and broke school season records for touchdowns (38), points scored (232), rushing yards and a host of others. As a culmination of his efforts, he was rated as ESPN's No. 2 fullback nationally.

In 2008, Coleman headed to UCLA, where he majored in political science and considered a career in law. He only saw limited playing time his first two years with the Bruins, but during his junior season, Coleman played in 11 games and was ranked second on the team in yards. He also played on both special teams and defense and won UCLA's Tommy Prothro Award for Outstanding Special Teams Player three times. His senior year, Coleman again won the Prothro Award and also took home the coaching staff’s Paul I. Wellman Memorial Award for All Around-Excellence.


Despite putting up solid numbers in college, Coleman wasn’t chosen during the 2012 NFL draft. In April 2012, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings, but he was waived in August. Four months later, Coleman was signed by the Seattle Seahawks and added to the 53-man roster during the preseason, making Coleman the third deaf man to play in the NFL (behind Bonnie Sloan [1973] and Kenny Walker [1991]).

"There was always someone telling me what I couldn't do," Coleman has said. “[But] what football did was save my life." 

A non-starting fullback, Coleman scored a famed, almost impromptu touchdown on December 2, 2013, on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints. He was also a part of the Seahawks' Super Bowl XLVIII championship team, thus becoming the first deaf player to play in the Super Bowl. Though the Seahawks moved on to the Super Bowl in 2015 as well, Coleman was placed on injury reserve in October of the previous year after breaking a bone in his foot during warmups. 

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