It’s coming up on almost a year since Montori Hughes lost his 3-month-old daughter, Malveah Alice.
A sudden illness delivered a devastating, life-altering heartbreak last August.
Yet you wouldn’t know what the man has been through when chatting with him. Hughes, 24, is 6-4, 350 pounds of positive energy, as enthusiastic as anyone in the Indianapolis Colts locker room.
The third-year defensive tackle spoke during June’s offseason training activities about the past helping him grow. He thinks about his daughter every day, then sets his mind to working as hard as possible to be a better person and more consistent football player.
“It’s a hard thing,” he said of his daughter. “Every day, I think about her a lot. Some days, you want to get down, and it’s harder than others, but adversity always comes and you’ve just got to handle adversity and just take it one day at a time.
“It’s just made me a stronger person, you know, going through stuff like that, the only thing you can do is be strong. I just feel like it’s made me stronger, and just concentrate and focus more.”
After making 11 tackles in 12 games last season, the reserve foresees making more of a contribution this season as a reserve lineman who can back up nose tackle Josh Chapman and also shift to tackle behind Arthur Jones.
While many thought the Colts would address nose tackle in free agency, the Colts drafted Stanford nose tackle David Parry in the fifth round. The team decided Chapman, Hughes and Parry could get the job done.
“Me, Chap, Dave, nasty nose game, we just come to work each day and do what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “You might not see it, but we just come in and get better each and every day.”
Hughes doesn’t have a preference between nose tackle or defensive tackle. He’s just expecting to make more plays.
“I just want to come and work and try to get to our goal we want to meet,” he said, referring to the Super Bowl. “Whatever I need to do, what my job is, I just do it.
“As a competitor that I am, I always feel like I can do more. Even if I did more, I still want more because that’s just how I am. Just like I said, I’m just coming in every day now and just chopping at wood, one day at a time, take care of my fundamentals and my technique, and everything else will just take care of itself.”
Hughes is often seen joking around with second-year defensive tackle Zach Kerr. If there’s a loud noise in the locker room, it’s usually those two having fun.
“That’s life,” he said with a smile. “Coach always says, ‘Be where your feet (are).’ When you’re at work, you’re supposed to be at work. I’m just here having fun. I love what I do.”
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An observation that Hughes always seems to have happy feet makes him laugh.
“That’s just who I am, you know,” he said. “I try to enjoy life. I’ve been through a lot, like you said. I try not to let the little things get me off track too much, but there’s ups and downs to everything.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.