There are things that motivate and inspire everyone in life. It could be adversity. It could be a coach. It could be a long-term goal. For Marquise Goodwin it's his younger sister Deja. Born three months premature and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Deja, needs a lot of assistance in her daily life. Assistance for a lot of the daily tasks that most take for granted.
Just 10 months younger than her older brother, Marquise, the Bills third-round pick has always held a special bond with Deja that compels him to always strive for more when it comes to football or any other challenge in his life. She has also provided him with a sense of awareness as to how fortunate most of us are to be able to act independently each and every day.
"She's definitely an inspiration," Goodwin told Buffalobills.com. "Since before I stepped on an athletic field. Just in life in general. I realize I'm blessed just to be able to wake up in the morning and walk."
The oldest of four, Goodwin actually has three younger sisters. He's protective of all of them, but Deja in particular.
"We've got a real close connection to one another being that close in age," he said.
From an early age Goodwin understood there were things Deja's body would not let her do on her own. At the same time he soon found through athletics that he was blessed with tremendous physical skills, most notably his speed.
Football and track quickly became the two sports in which he excelled the most. The Olympics and the NFL were eventually set as ultimate goals. Goodwin reached the Olympics as a long jumper, and is now embarking on an NFL career with Buffalo. All the while, Goodwin keeps his sister's image in the back of his mind.
"The things she can't do and people just like her because there are many people out there with CP (cerebral palsy) and it affects people where they can't perform like we do every day," said Goodwin.
"They can't do the little things like walk, feed themselves, clean themselves up.
"Every time it gets tough out there on the field I try to have that image of her pop up in my head and it gives me that second wind at the end of practice when I might be tired. She gives me that 'stay in' power. Part of you might want to come out of the game, but that image in my head makes me want to stay in and continue to push through."
When people look at all the physical blessings Goodwin possesses in comparison to that of his sister, it might lead some to wonder if the rookie wideout harbors any guilt. Deja's condition was none of his doing, but it's clear he wants to succeed with his athletic gifts on her behalf.
A God-fearing man, Goodwin instead focuses on how he and his sister are alike.
"Loving people, outgoing, very independent," said Goodwin in describing the qualities he feels they share. "If she could she would do everything herself."
Goodwin's performances in spring practices and the Bills minicamp were certainly encouraging. Training camp will be another proving ground for the speed receiver. It's widely expected that Goodwin will be an early contributor in Buffalo's offense and on special teams.
Deja loves watching her brother's football games even though her vision is poor. However, flying up to Buffalo for a game to watch in person is probably unlikely.
"She says she'd rather watch my games at home," said Goodwin. "She says those are the best seats for her. She watches a lot at my grandmother's house. She's not crazy about flying. My mom will make some games, but I'll try to get her up here one of these days."
For Goodwin, just knowing she's watching is enough.