Honoring HS athletes who inspire greatness on and off the field.


USA Football's Heart Of A Giant is presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants. This award program seeks to find and highlight Tri-State high school tackle and flag football athletes, student managers, student mascots or other designated student team members who demonstrate that extra something special. The ones that have a relentless work ethic and unmatched love for the game.

Values like commitment, character, teamwork, dedication and will are crucial every season. But in times like this, they matter even more. When they can't be side by side, when they don't take the fields on Friday nights, who helps keep the team together? That's who we're looking for.

Highlight them to show what they mean to your team. Give them a chance to win a $10,000 equipment grant for your program.

Having a Heart of a Giant means possessing characteristics like...

Unshakable work ethic in training and preparation. Exhibits a “first in, last out” mentality.

Leads by example and motivates teammates to be the best they can be.

Inspires and aligns others to work together to achieve a common goal.

Finds a way to persevere when faced with obstacles and adversity.

Demonstrates the desire and drive to succeed both on the field, in the classroom and within their community.


USA Football, Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants encourage coaches to nominate student athletes who participate in tackle or flag football, team managers or mascots who are worthy of the award regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual or gender orientation and disability.

USA Football reviews all nominations and selects 60 top nominees for the Heart of a Giant award, entering them into an online voting competition. Nominees are announced 10 per week over a 6-week span.

Voting opens and nominees promote themselves for the chance to be named a finalist for the Heart of a Giant award. One nominee with the most votes will be chosen each week as well as an additional 5 based on work ethic and character making 11 total finalists.

Finalists submit a video to be reviewed for the final round of voting, and all finalists receive a $1,000 equipment grant for their school. See below for video submissions from past winners.

USA Football, Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants review all video submissions and select 1 winner for the Heart of a Giant award to win an additional $9,000 equipment grant and trophy.

High school coaches from NY, NJ and CT can nominate one athlete, student manager, student mascot or other designated student member from their team for a chance to win a $10,000 equipment grant for their program.

Eleven Finalists Receive:

  • $1,000 equipment grant for their high school football programs

Grand Prize Winner Receives:

  • USA Football Heart of a Giant trophy presented on the field during a New York Giants' home game in December
  • Additional $9,000 equipment grant for their high school football program


About HSS

HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the 14th consecutive year), No. 2 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2023-2024), and the best pediatric orthopedic hospital in NY, NJ and CT by U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” list (2023-2024). In a survey of medical professionals in more than 20 countries by Newsweek, HSS is ranked world #1 in orthopedics for a third consecutive year (2023). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has the lowest readmission rates in the nation for orthopedics, and among the lowest infection and complication rates. HSS was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center five consecutive times. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State, as well as in Florida. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Innovation Institute works to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The HSS Education Institute is a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal knowledge and research for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, academic trainees, and consumers in more than 165 countries. The institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally. www.hss.edu.


St Peter's Prep
Jersey City, NJ
London Robinson is a defensive end, outside linebacker and defensive tackle from Jersey City, New Jersey. Despite having some trials in his life, he has overcome with incredible will and character. He credits God to being behind his successes both on the field and in the classroom. London speaks more on his story and his triumphs in the video below.


Jericho High School
Jericho, NY
Jericho High School student-athlete, Brandt Morgan was diagnosed with Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. Throughout the past 10 months, despite his treatments destroying his body to the point that climbing a flight of stairs felt like a marathon, his singular goal remained being ready for this football season. Fast forward to the end of August 2021 and Brandt had met his goal. With the help of family and doctors, they were able to figure out a way to cover his chemo port and keep it protected. He also had to get his body in shape to handle the rigor of playing competitive sports and ready to handle the contact associated with being on the football field. He achieved both of those things and was on the field with the rest of his teammates at the start of training camp. Over the past few weeks, he has been getting blood tests multiple times a week (sometimes daily) to make sure his platelet counts are where they need to be, undergoing spinal taps, and continuing maintenance for his cancer. He has done ALL of that while attending class, participating in practice, and doing everything possible to earn a spot back on the football field.

Watch the Video


Malcolm X Shabazz High School
Newark, NJ
Devian is very persistent, not only in his athletics but also in the classroom. Despite the passing of his mother, having surgery to repair his jaw, and numerous other adversities; he has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout his entire high school career. He is a strong, exceptional leader on the field. He is one of Malcom X Shabazz High School football’s linemen captains. He is someone that his teammates can rely on for information both on and off the field, as well as a constant support for the coaching staff, his family, and community. Devian is an outstanding young man with a bright future.


Passaic County Technical Institute
Wayne, NJ
Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI) student-athlete, Yosue Gomez, turned to sports when faced with hardships at home. At the end of Yosue’s sophomore year, his mother was deemed unfit to take care of him and his family. Yosue and his family moved into a foster home, where he admittedly failed to maintain proper nutrition and would often struggle to keep his clothes clean. During this time, Yosue created a bond with PCTI’s head football coach, Matthew Demarest. Coach Demarest took Yosue under his wing and encouraged him to get better each day. Yosue grew to love the sport and embraced the time he had on the field and in the locker room with his new football family. Yosue will end his high school sports career as a three-year starter on the gridiron at PCTI, and a member of the track & field and wrestling teams. Off the field, Yosue has held a 3.7 cumulative GPA in the classroom and inspired all of his classmates and teammates around him. The 27-year coaching veteran, Coach Demarest, stated “Yosue Gomez is truly one of the most amazing human beings I have ever met.”

Watch the Video


John F. Kennedy High School and Weequahic High School Football
Newark, NJ
Duane Coleman II was selected to be the Heart of a Giant winner in 2019 because of his courage and success competing for the Weequahic football team, despite having to navigate through obstacles along the way. He was diagnosed with autism and battled depression due to being overweight. Coleman has turned to football to overcome these challenges. He currently attends John F. Kennedy School – a district wide special education school – but joined the Weequahic High School football team to suit up and hit the gridiron. Coleman has since lost more than 100 pounds, and he’s inspired faculty and other students to stay active as well.

Watch the Video


Hillside High School
Hillside, NJ
At the age of four, when Shadon’s parents were no longer able take care of him and his three siblings, he found refuge with his aunt and uncle and considers his cousins as siblings. Because of his lack of resources, Shadon made some decisions that ended with him being benched his freshman year, while devastating at the time, he used this experience as motivation to change his life and now recognizes how the game of football has helped him overcome various hardships.

Watch the Video


West Mendham High School
Mendham, NJ
Quinn was diagnosed with ALCL non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer. Despite numerous trips to the hospital and chemotherapy treatments over the years, in addition to a bone marrow transplant and T-Cell infusions, Quinn continues to fight his disease head on. Despite what Sebastian has been through, he fights through it all to maintain his role as a key member of the Mendham football program.

Watch the Video


Mahopac High School
Mahopac, NY
Despite being born without his left hand, Charlie Burt, a senior at Mahopac High School in Westchester County, continues to defy the odds. A two-way starter and team captain, Burt has always dealt with his handicap head on, whether it be lifting weights with the use of an adaptive hook, or playing baseball and lacrosse in addition to his time on the gridiron, Charlie credits his determination and positive mindset when it comes to his relentless pursuit of his goals.

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Roosevelt High School
Roosevelt, NY
Ukwu, a senior at Roosevelt High School in Long Island, has been a standout athlete for the Roosevelt football program for the past four years, but it is his commitment to his community that makes him who he is. He volunteers to serve others, including offering assistance to elderly neighbors with house repairs following Hurricane Sandy and supporting children at the United Cerebral Palsy Center of Nassau County. Chukwuma puts the needs of others before his own. Following an outstanding senior season, he turned down the honor of playing in the Nassau County high school football all-star game on Thanksgiving to serve dinner to the needy at his local church.

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Pascack Hills High School
Montvale, NJ
On March 19, 2014, Anthony Cortazzo collapsed on the high school track after his heart had stopped. With the help of his athletic trainer, Cortazzo was revived by an automated external defibrillator (AED) and later diagnosed with anomalous aortic origin of the coronary artery. After the incident and hours of extensive open-heart surgery, Anthony was told he would more than likely never be able to return to the football field, a notion that did not sit well with Anthony. After months of rehabilitation and hard work, Cortazzo returned to the gridiron in October of the 2014 season to finish up his dream of playing football for Pascack Hills High School.

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Lincoln High School
Yonkers, NY
Minyard, a senior at Lincoln, has overcome challenges that many student-athletes will never face. Because of an illness at birth, Minyard is legally deaf in his right ear, requires highly specialized contact lenses to correct his vision and suffers from debilitating cognitive processing delays. Despite his disability, Minyard has excelled on and off the football field. He is co-captain of the Lincoln varsity football team, an honor roll student, Marine Corps JROTC staff sergeant, member of the school’s PTSA and volunteer assistant coach for a community youth football team.

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Questions or want to learn more about the Heart of a Giant program? Simply contact us today.