Pain in Tarik Cohen's voice was evident Monday when the Bears running back spoke to reporters about a recent family tragedy.
Cohen's 19-year-old brother, Dante Norman, is paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in early June in Raleigh, North Carolina.
"I feel like I was injured also," Cohen said at a youth football camp he hosted at Elk Grove High School. "Somebody I've been around my whole life. I feel like we're one. It's not like he's a different person; it's like we're the same person. So if anything affects him, it affects me. That's my little brother. I've done the best to protect him my whole life. When this happened, it was like a culture shock to me. So I just tried to be around him and encourage him as much as possible and let him know that everything's going to be all right."
Cohen has spent as much time with his younger brother as possible since the shooting while also continuing to work on his conditioning in preparation for training camp. Dante's attitude since he suffered the life-altering injury has inspired his older brother.
"Every time he sees me he tells me he's ready to start his rehab so he can bounce back," Cohen said. "He knows he can bounce back. Just hearing that lets me know that he's a warrior, he's a dog. I don't know how I would act in that situation. I would be dwelling on what happened. But he's ready to get at it and ready to get back to his own self. So it's really pushing me through."
Cohen discussed the shooting publicly for the first time last Saturday at a camp he was hosting at his alma mater, North Carolina A&T. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision when he saw a camper in a wheelchair having a great time.
"It just came out," said the Bears running back. "It wasn't planned or anything. I just saw a camper who was in a wheelchair also and I just saw my brother in him and I saw how much fun he was having. It just made me think of my brother and how his life is about to be."
Cohen has never lacked motivation, but he will arrive in Bourbonnais for the start of training camp next week with even more incentive because of Dante.
"I feel like definitely he's my purpose," Cohen said.
"I just want to do things for him. I know it's not possible, but I feel like I want to walk for him. I want to experience things in my life and let him see those things so that he can feel it as if he's done it also."