It took Marcus’ doctors three surgeries to finally figure out what the UCLA Bruins defensive back was up against. His condition, Aspergillosis, was extremely rare and deadly. Rios was told that of the 12 previous confirmed cases similar to his, 10 had ultimately died of the disease. It quickly became apparent Rios was in a fight for his life.

Initially Marcus believed he had a sinus infection, but his symptoms and pain escalated to the point where sleep was impossible. It was hard to even see and Marcus could barely get out of bed. The doctors at UCLA Medical Center made it clear to Marcus when he was admitted that his life was in serious jeopardy. Marcus spent 28 days in the hospital, lost nearly 50 pounds, but survived.

His room in the hospital overlooked the Bruins’ football practice field and kept him motivated. He came back bigger and stronger for the 2015 season and earned a starting cornerback spot, playing in all 13 games. His story was featured on the television series “Monster Inside Me” on Animal Planet.