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Ex-NFL Star Pays For 500 Mammograms To Honor Late Mom: ‘This Access Is Life-Changing’

Five years after losing his mom to breast cancer, DeAngelo Williams is still passionately dedicated to fighting the disease and is doing everything he can to spread awareness about early detection, including covering the cost of such procedures.

According to Today, the former Pittsburgh Steelers running back's nonprofit organization, The DeAngelo Williams Foundation, has footed the bill for more than 500 women to receive potentially life-saving mammograms.

Williams' mother, Sandra Hill, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.

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To show his support for his mom's battle, the 36-year-old dyed his hair pink, a look he continued to sport throughout his eight-year NFL career while playing with the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

In a personal article published in The Players' Tribune, Williams wrote:

"Each time the disease struck, we thought, This is gonna be the one that we beat. We knew the protocols — doctors, chemo, estrogen shot, whatever was needed to be healthy and fighting. We were always optimistic."

His nonprofit, The DeAngelo Williams Foundation was formally founded in 2006.

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According to its official website, its mission is to "develop and seek initiatives to support the eradication of breast cancer through preventative care and research."

In 2010, Williams' mother's cancer returned. As he wrote, "It was time to fight again, and I was determined to win this one."

In the midst of all the incredible work his foundation was doing, Williams' mom tragically passed away in 2014 at the age of 53.

The Players' Tribune | DeAngelo Williams

This wasn't been the first loss in Williams' family. He'd previously lost four aunts to breast cancer, all before the age of 50.

Before his mom passed, she told him she'd had a "great life" and felt ready for what was to come next.

"I wasn't supposed to make it to 50, and now I'm 53. I stole three years. Look, you come from a long line of warriors. Don't worry about me."

In 2015, one year after his mom's tragic death, Williams' began sponsoring free mammogram screening to honor her memory.

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Through his foundation, the annual "53 Strong for Sandra" program sponsors mammograms for 53 women, totaling more than 500 free procedures since it first began.

"To be able to help all these women is amazing," Williams told Today. "This can be life-changing for these women. We are enabling them to get this care that no one should ever be denied or not have access to."

His passionate advocacy has not been without its setbacks, though.

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In 2015, while he was still playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Williams repeatedly asked the NFL to allow him to wear pink all year-round to honor his late mom.

He had previously pushed for the league to allow players to wear pink cleats during the month of October, which is breast cancer awareness month, leading to fabulous displays of pink on the field: pink headphones, pink cleats, pink pom-poms, etc.

However, his request to wear pink outside of October was denied.

While there were no rules about him dyeing his hair pink, Williams was devastated that he could not sport more of the color.

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In spite of this setback, the now-retired NFL player has continued to passionately advocate for breast cancer awareness, and continues to make a difference in the lives of people everywhere in memory of his late mother.

"A lot of people know that DeAngelo Williams' mamma died," he wrote. "But I want you to know that, more importantly, she lived."

h/t: Today, ABC News, The Players' Tribune