Derrick’s hearing problem was apparent at a very young age when his parents noticed he didn’t respond to them like a typical 3-year-old and that his speech was slow to develop. Doctors tested his hearing and determined it was impaired. The reason for his hearing loss was genetic. Derrick’s father and mother were missing hearing genes. The result was the absence of a key hearing gene for their son.
His hearing continued to regress until middle school where it leveled off and Derrick became more accepting of his hearing loss and embraced the use of his hearing aids as a tool to help. Sports was always a big part of his life and Derrick simply adapted and overcame his inability to hear to continue moving forward. In his mind he said it was like wearing glasses to help see better.
Derrick had a tremendous career at UCLA as a running back. He played in 48 games, rushed for more than 1,700 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. His senior year he was named second team All-Pac 12. Derrick went on to become the first legally deaf offensive player in the NFL, played for six years with four teams and won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks.