The Gift

Derrick Nix lost his future in football. Thanks to his brother, he still has a future without it.

Updated: May 1, 2003, 3:04 PM ET
By Luke Cyphers
You should see the tape of him, before the disease caught him, before he slept every night tethered by rubber hoses to machines that clean his blood. In the open field, the long legs carry Derrick Nix past defenders who, at first glance, seem faster. In traffic he's compact; pads so low hardly anybody gets a clean shot on him. When they do, the 225-pound halfback decleats 'em. After one such decleating, the Southern Mississippi PA announcer started calling him Baby Bull, and the name stuck. But a banner on the gray concrete grandstand that proclaims Roberts Stadium "The Rock & at Southern Miss" could have stood for Derrick Nix, too.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.