NFL linebacker Von Miller is encouraging his fellow football players and everyone else to take COVID-19 seriously. 

The Denver Broncos star athlete recently revealed he was diagnosed with the virus last month after an annoying cough interfered with his breathing. Initially, he didn’t think it was a big deal, The Washington Post reports. 

“I started to get a cough, but I rarely ever get sick, so I really didn’t think about it being the coronavirus. I thought I just had a cold,” he said. “I was still coughing when I was making my protein shake, and my assistant told me: ‘Why don’t you just go get tested? The Broncos, they got free tests; it’s right down the street.’ Two days later they tell me I had the coronavirus.”

Miller’s symptoms, which included coughing, loss of smell, taste and appetite, intensified to a terrifying level because he’s asthmatic, he said. He turned to his nebulizer (a device that turns liquid medicine into a mist) for relief, but it was no match for the “constricting” feeling that plagued his lungs.

“My asthma nebulizer helped, but it still didn’t feel like it was supposed to. That was the most frightening part. Just going to sleep knowing that my oxygen level could drop and I could wake up and have to go to the hospital.”

The Super Bowl MVP was hesitant to say it was a near-death experience, however he did admit to dark thoughts. “I wouldn’t say that I thought I was going to die or anything like that, but it did cross my mind a little bit,” he told the newspaper.

Now that he’s fully recovered from the potentially fatal illness, Miller is dedicated to spreading awareness and feeding families affected by the virus with the Von Sacks COVID campaign. Per the Texas native’s campaign website, Miller’s mission is to provide up to 580,000 meals to students and families in need.

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