Former NFL player and local high school athletic director share a life changing bond

PEACHTREE CITY, Ga — McIntosh High School athletic director Leon Hammond needs a new kidney, and a former NFL player and transplant recipient gave him some advice.

Hammond told Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen that he has been part of some very tough battles, on and off the football field.

“At 25, I think I had the Superman complex. I didn’t think if would affect me right now,” Hammond said.

Hammond was diagnosed with kidney disease 13 years ago. It’s now Stage 4 and he needs a transplant.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Until recently, he kept his medical condition to himself, but then he heard about Willie Blackwell.

Channel 2 Action News introduced you to Blackwell in 2021.

The former star player at Atlanta’s Morris Brown College and NFL linebacker was also in desperate need of an organ donor. He, too, didn’t like to talk about what he was up against.

“My doctor told me if you want a new kidney, you have to tell people you need a new kidney,” Blackwell said.


Blackwell took to social media and let people know. Last spring, he received a new kidney.

Blackwell and Hammond have talked on the phone a lot, but they met in person for the very first time on Tuesday.

Hammond is talking Blackwell’s advice about going public. He has two very good reasons.

“That’s my ‘why.’ Those are the two of them, why I want to be here, why I want to continue to live, why I want to continue to work and be healthy. Those two little girls: 6 years old and 3 — my daughters,” Hammond said.

His social media site is called Leon Hammond Needs a Kidney. It includes links on how to become an organ donor.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]