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Ravens' Breshad Perriman stronger after emotionally challenging offseason

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Breshad Perriman has a lot to prove (0:52)

ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley discusses how wide receiver Breshad Perriman has to earn his role after not playing a snap as a rookie. (0:52)

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman endured a rough rookie season after the first-round pick didn't play a snap because of a knee injury. Disappointed fans suggested he was a bust, coach John Harbaugh took a jab at his slower-than-expected recovery, and Perriman acknowledged that he was in a "dark hole for a good period of time" for letting the team down.

But nothing compared to perhaps the most difficult and emotional offseason an NFL player faced this year.

Perriman lost his close friend and teammate, Tray Walker, in a dirt bike accident on March 20 and watched his father, Brett Perriman, hospitalized in critical condition after he suffered a significant stroke in May. The death of Walker and the life-threatening illness of his father tested Perriman's resolve.

"It’s been crazy," Perriman said. "I’ve been through a lot this offseason, but it’s just making me stronger again and just learning to keep faith and pray a lot more."

No one on the Ravens was more devastated by the death of Walker than Perriman. The two became inseparable because of shared experiences.

Perriman and Walker were both drafted by Baltimore in 2015. Their parents grew up in South Florida's Liberty City, and they remember meeting as children. More than anything, they bonded while dealing with challenging first seasons in the NFL.

"I won't lie: He got me through some hard days," Perriman told the Ravens' website after Walker's death. "It was difficult. If he hadn't been there, I would have gone crazy. He was basically the only one -- or one of the only ones -- who knew everything about my situation. He was the one person I could come to and tell everything about how I was feeling."

Earlier this month, Perriman posted cleats that honored Walker's memory on Instagram:

"Bruh will never be forgotten!" Perriman wrote. "You live through me two five!! Still feel unreal at times bruh but miss you."

It was 44 days later that Perriman's father suffered a stroke. Brett Perriman, 50, a former NFL receiver, was reportedly fighting for his life, and Breshad Perriman asked on Twitter for prayers for his father.

Brett Perriman remains in intensive care, but he was recently moved to a hospital near his home in Atlanta. He will soon transition to the hospital’s acquired brain injury unit for evaluation, care and observation.

After the Ravens' organized team activity last week, Breshad Perriman was asked whether his father's health issues have put his own injury in perspective.

“Yes, I would think so," Perriman said. "I just think you can’t take anything for granted, for the most part.”

Perriman, the No. 26 overall pick, became the first Ravens' first-round pick to not play a down in the regular season as a rookie. He sprained his right knee, aggravated the injury in October while trying to chase down an overthrown pass and underwent arthroscopic surgery on Oct. 1.

At that time, Harbaugh quipped, "He's had probably one of the all-time slowest healing sprained PCLs ever." The Ravens placed him on injured reserve on Nov. 17.

Now Perriman is back to running at full speed at this year's offseason workouts. He said he doesn't think about his knee injury anymore.

What Perriman has yet to put behind him is a trying offseason.

"It’s been rough," Perriman said. "It still is rough from time to time, but I’m steady getting through it, pushing through it and keeping faith.”