Former Plant High star Rex Culpepper fighting testicular cancer to get back on the field at Syracuse

Culpepper plays quarterback for Syracuse Orange

TAMPA, Fla. -- Rex Culpepper had just flown back to Syracuse. He felt his first wave of discomfort as he drove home from the airport.

“I noticed my testicle was swollen," says Rex. "I didn’t think much of it at first.”

The 20-year-old quarterback at Syracuse University and former football star at Plant High School in Tampa had spring practice coming up. He did not have time to get sick. 

When he finally went to the hospital, the doctor delivered a terrifying diagnosis: testicular cancer.

“I was like, ‘Come on, what?!’ It was kind of hard to take in,” says Rex, getting another round of chemotherapy at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. “My mom and dad flew me home immediately.”

Rex's mother and father are Monica Culpepper, of TV’s “Survivor,” and Brad Culpepper, who first made his name as a football star for the Florida Gators and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is now a successful lawyer on billboards all over town.

“We’re worried about his health," says Brad. "And he’s like, I gotta get back to practice!"

Rex first had surgery to remove the cancerous testicle. His chemotherapy wraps up June 1.

And then? Rex, whose roommate at Syracuse is starting quarterback Eric Dungey, plans to play for the Orange this fall.

After what happened a few weeks ago, Rex will have plenty of people rooting for him.

Syracuse’s spring football game fell between Rex's chemotherapy treatments. While he got to suit up for the game, he never expected to play especially when Coach Dino Babers said no way.

But at the end of the game an inspiring event occurred that went viral.

“They called me out, and I started crying," says Rex.

Coach Babers gave Rex one offensive set. Not only did he go 4-for-4, Rex threw a touchdown pass to Ravian Pierce, sending everyone in the Carrier Dome into a frenzy.

“It’s hard not to be positive when I’m surrounded by such amazing people,” Rex says.

Print this article Back to Top