Memory of Friend Spurs Shaw’s Fighting Spirit

Former Penn State and NFL linebacker remains positive as he battles ALS. Shaw was honored at the Jordan Center Saturday afternoon as part of Team Ream Day.

Tim Shaw being honored and then interviewed.

When former Penn State and NFL linebacker Tim Shaw was diagnosed with ALS last April, feeling sorry for himself was not a viable option. After all, Shaw had perspective.

A few months earlier, he lost a close friend. Brandon Ream was a former teammate and roommate of Shaw's on the Nittany Lion football team, and passed away in November of 2013 after a two-year battle with cancer.

Ream's fighting spirit has served as an inspiration to Shaw as he takes on ALS with an amazingly upbeat attitude. Shaw's positive approach was on display at the Jordan Center Saturday, when he was honored with the Team Ream Fighter of the Year Award during the PSU-Purdue basketball game.

A pair of golden boxing gloves symbolize the award, and Shaw was emotional after he was presented with them.

“Just thinking about my friend Brandon, and the man that he was, is emotional,” he said afterward. “So to be honored as he was honored is very emotional. It's very humbling to be put in the same category and to be spoken of so highly. I'm very thankful.”

Saturday was the second annual Team Ream Day at the BJC, where the goal is to raise money and awareness for the fight against cancer in the name of Ream (who was a punter at PSU). A check for $20,000 was presented to Mount Nittany Medical Center to help local folks who are fighting cancer.

“Team Ream is an example of what Penn State is all about,” Shaw said. “It's taking your own situation and realizing that it's bigger than you. It's realizing that there are more people out there suffering than just you. And that you can do good. Through any, any, any negative situation, you can do good.

“That's what Team Ream is all about,” he added. “And that's what Penn State, in my mind, is all about.”

The work done in the fight against cancer by Team Ream helped motivate Shaw to start his own foundation to take on ALS -- Best Man Tim (which you can find at With that in mind, the boxing gloves he received Saturday had a very special meaning.

“They mean I have to keep fighting,” Shaw said. “And I will, every single day. They mean that I have to keep inspiring, and I will, every single day. These will remind me, even more so, of Brandon and the way he lived and I'll just try to keep living that way.”

Though ALS forced the now 30-year-old Shaw to retire from the NFL, he wanted to let people know that he's OK.

“I'm doing well,” he said. “I'm staying very active. I'm traveling. I'm working out, I'm running. I'm trying to deal with the new limitations on my body. But I'm supported and I'm loved, and I am smiling and laughing and full of joy.”

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