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Roughrider Loucheiz Purifoy willing to give up a kidney and football for mom

Loucheiz Purifoy recently welcomed a newborn son to the world and said there is nothing he wouldn't give up for family.

Purifoy's mom received a kidney transplant while he was playing in the NFL

Roughriders defensive back and kick returner Loucheiz Purifoy strikes a pose during practice at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. (Peter Mills/CBC)

Loucheiz Purifoy recently welcomed a newborn son to the world and said there is nothing he wouldn't give up for family.

The 26-year-old from Cantonment, Fla., loves playing football and he's pretty good at it too. Purifoy went to a major football school at the University of Florida, spent time in the NFL, and has played some of his best ball as a defensive back and kick returner the past year and a half in Saskatchewan. 

But football is also a job, a way to put food on the table, and a something that makes his mom proud.

Purifoy would do anything for his mom. He even offered her a kidney during one of the most important parts of his football career.

Purifoy spoke with CBC's Peter Mills about his journey to Saskatchewan, his mom's incredible strength to tackle health issues, and much more.

Roughriders defensive back and kick returner Loucheiz Purifoy tells CBC's Peter Mills about the recent birth of his son and how his mom's ability to overcome health problems motivated him to be a better person and a better football player. 5:22

A new life

Last week, Purifoy was unexpectedly missing from practice. Well, maybe only unexpected for the media. He was in Gainesville, Fla. for the birth of his son, Isaiah King Purifoy.

"It's a joy to see a new life coming in and knowing that you produced it," Purifoy said. "I can't wait to get back with him. He's still in the hospital right now but [doing well]." 

Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy (28) drapes a chain around teammate William Powell's (29) neck after he scored a touchdown against the Ottawa Redblacks, in Regina, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith)

Purifoy is happy he got to be there for the birth and he isn't fazed by being thousands of kilometres away to play football.

"It's my job. I know why I'm here and I know I got my kids back home," he said. "He doesn't know but my daughter knows, she's old enough to know why I'm here. If it was up to me I'd be around them all the time. But I've got to work. Somebody's gotta to put the food on the table to take care of them."

'Y'all wouldn't understand'

In 2015, Purifoy posted a 'Straight Outta Cantonment' photo on social media and he wrote, "Y'all wouldn't understand".

"You wouldn't. You wouldn't understand," he said. "It's so close knit and it's so country. Like Regina reminds me of it, but there's more people in Regina. We grew up like everybody grew up together. Everybody like family. I stayed up the street from a paper mill. My momma did the best to take care of us it was just me, her, and my two sisters."

Saskatchewan Roughriders' Loucheiz Purifoy, left, and Dyshawn Davis bow to each other while celebrating Purifoy's kick return touchdown against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver on Saturday July 27, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Mom is where the heart is

"That's my heart, man," Purifoy said about his mother. "I had been through so much. She had been through so much ... If I make her happy doing this, I'm gonna keep doing it until she tells me to stop. Until the end, I'm going to keep making her happy. She wants to see me on the TV screen, that's where I'm going to be." 

When Purifoy was a teenager, his mom — Estella Floyd — woke him up in the middle of the night because she was having heart failure.

"My senior year in high school, she went through congestive heart failure and really didn't know what was going on. She just woke me up and she was like, her chest is hurting. They called the ambulance and I get to the hospital and she's got all the tubes and she was unresponsive. It was tough. I mean, we've been though it. She just got a kidney like six years ago, so I've been through some stuff with her."

Left to right: Derrick Moncrief, Loucheiz Purifoy, and Dyshawn Davis. (Peter Mills/CBC)

After waiting several years for a kidney, Estella had a transplant while Purifoy was playing football in the NFL.

"For her, that was a big stage because I really would have gave her my kidney, but she told me not to," he said.  "It was a line between, 'Do I still want to play football or do I want to give my momma this kidney so she can live?' Nobody wants to lose their momma that soon."

Purifoy said it was hard to hear his mom say 'no' to taking his kidney.

"I got mad because I was like, 'Well I want you here and ain't nobody else is gonna do it. All of us [siblings] ended up saying we would give it to her and she was like, 'I don't want yours because you got better things to do. She put me first, but at the end of the day I would have gave all this away just for her."

Purifoy said his mom has "problems here and there" but overall she is doing well.

Florida defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy (15) runs for a 42-yard touchdown after intercepting an Arkansas pass during an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

His biggest fans

Regardless of what his mom was going through, Purifoy said she still never missed one of his games at the University of Florida.

"Every game. Didn't miss a game," he said. "Even when I was suspended, she didn't miss the game."

"That just shows you my support group. From my mom and my sisters and my best friends back home, they support me and I'm going to keep doing it for them."

Florida defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy (15) blocks a punt by Miami punter Pat O'Donnell (16) during an NCAA college football game in Miami Gardens, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/The Tampa Bay Times, Will Vragovic)

Purifoy loves his sisters and he said the feeling is mutual.

"They love me, man," he said. "Anytime we done with a game, I can go on my Snapchat, I can go on my phone and they're recording videos. You can just hear them. You might as well say they're here with us. They send videos of me running the ball, me tackling people, and they'll be hyped like they're out there playing football with me."

"You gotta enjoy that. Even though I'm way away, I know they still got me regardless."

Catch me if you can

Purifoy's mom once told FOX Sports, "I would have those girls run and try to chase him down," Floyd said. "They would come back so tired, out of breath, 'we can't catch him.'" Purifoy said that's exactly what happened growing up.

"Yeah, those were my whoopin' days," he said. "I used to run from a whoopin' and she used to get them to try and catch me but that wasn't happening." 

Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy returns a kick against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the CFL West Division semifinal in Regina on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor)

Being able to evade his older sisters was an early sign of Purifoy could do the same on a football field.

"I was hyper so it was to a point where I had no choice but to play football," he said. "I couldn't at first. I started football late. I started at nine [years old] because I was having seizures. Once I got rid of those, it was like, 'He gotta go do something extracurricular.' It was either football, track or basketball."

Regina feeling like home

Despite only playing in Saskatchewan since August 2018, Purifoy is a veteran staple on the Rider defence. Purifoy said there's a reason he was able to settle in quickly.

"It's so welcoming," he said. "In many places, you're not welcome. Here it's open arms. They invite you with open arms and you gotta respect that, you gotta love that. Why not love to play with people that love you?"

Winnipeg not welcome

Purifoy also answered some not-so-serious questions, but one of them regarding certain Winnipeg fans did get him fired up. Click on the audio below to hear Purifoy talk about why some Bombers fans aren't welcome in Saskatchewan, why he's craving smothered pork chops, and much more.

Does Loucheiz Purifoy have a tattoo of himself? Why is he craving smothered pork chops? And what happens when his gang takes Disney? CBC's Peter Mills talked to Purifoy to answer these important questions and much more. 3:38

This interview has been edited and condensed.

The Roughriders (7-4) take on the Montreal Alouettes (6-4) at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 14. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. CST.


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About the Author

Peter Mills is an associate producer at CBC Saskatchewan. Follow him on Twitter @TweeterMillsCBC. Do you have a story idea? Email peter.mills@cbc.ca.