Raised in Pennsylvania with five brothers and sisters, Jim is “Kelly Tough,” a phrase that’s become a way of life as he has fought to overcome many challenges professionally and personally.
Jim attended the University of Miami and faced a career threatening injury in 1982. He fought his way back and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1983. Jim opted to play for the USFL until they suspended operations in 1986, at which time he returned to his contract with the Bills, where he spent his legendary NFL career, including an unprecedented four straight AFC championships – and four devastating Super Bowl defeats. Jim retired from the NFL following the 1996 season.
Since retirement, Jim has focused on family. After losing his son Hunter to an untreatable disease in 2005, he and his wife started Hunter’s Hope Foundation, which focuses on acquiring information and research with respect to Krabbe Disease and related Leukodystrophies.
In August 2002, Jim was enshrined in the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame. During his induction speech, Jim paid tribute to Hunter, who surpassed medical expectations and was present for induction.
In June 2013, Jim was diagnosed with Squamous-Cell Carcinoma of the upper jawbone. He underwent surgery and was deemed cancer free. Less than one year later in March 2014, his cancer returned. Surgery not an option, Jim received an intensive regimen of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. It is an ongoing battle, but there is no doubt Jim has a true appreciation of life. He believes in the four F’s – Faith, Family, Friends & Fans. Although Jim is the definition of Kelly Tough, he knows, that staying tough takes faith in God, and surrounding himself by a great team.