DES MOINES, Iowa — Sometimes, we cover stories that inspire others, but some of those stories inspire those of us who tell them. Thirteen years ago we all met Phillip Tracy, a die-hard Des Moines Bucs fan who had been to countless games but never actually saw one.

When I got a text message recently from Tracy, the 45-year-old told me he wanted to sit down and share what people didn’t know.

“The years after we did that interview, I kind of went away,” Tracy said. “My mental status was tough, it was just tough, not great.”

During our first discussion in March of 2009, Tracy opened up about his life and struggles that date back well before he can remember what happened.

“My birth mother had a drug problem and my dad said you need to make a choice. You’re going to need to choose the kid or the drugs and unfortunately, she chose the drugs. Since she didn’t get her way she called the police and said my dad had abused her and he never laid a hand on her. While he was in jail, he spent six months in jail, I was abused by my birth mother and it was very graphic. She shoved drug needles through both eyes and broke three of my four limbs and left me for dead,” Tracy said.

As his mother left six-month-old Phillip for another drug run, someone passing by the home heard his screams and walked through the open door to rescue him. Nearly beaten to death he was rushed to the University of Iowa Hospitals.

“They told my dad I was going to die, that it was a 100% certainty I was going to die and he needed to prepare himself for me dying. And, I made it,” Tracy said.

After four months of healing, Phillip was reunited with his dad, who remarried and raised Philip. He went to the Iowa Braille School in Vinton and learned how to live a life unable to see. Years later he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder and relied on pain meds to help his spine. Tracy said getting help for the battle going on inside his head was the most difficult.

“It’s okay to get yourself evaluated, it is perfectly okay. You do not have to be the strongest man in the world. It is okay to be weak – it’s part of life. I don’t want anyone to feel shame for their situation. That’s what I learned in my counseling. No shame, no blame,” Tracy said.

That attitude helped get him to the Fresnius Medical Center in Des Moines.

“Well, in March I went to the kidney doctor and he said I was going to need kidney dialysis because my kidneys were down to eight percent function. Quite frankly I told him no thank you. I (didn’t) want anything to do with it, I’m going to let nature take its course, I’ve lived a good life and whatever happens, happens.”

But after saying some prayers, a change of heart got him to walk through the doors.

“It was an instant reversal. I went from no, to we got to go and we got to go now. You know me if I’m going to do it, I’m going all the way.”

After three months of going to dialysis three times a week, over three hours per session, the old smile is back. Phillip hopes a new kidney will come in time for the next big goal: singing the national anthem inside the new arena being built for the Des Moines Buccaneers.

“Just throwing it out there, off the cuff, I would like to do that again when the new arena opens, I think it would be really fitting,” Tracy said.

A return to a familiar place, surrounded by people who now know his entire story.