Kendall Simmons, a former offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers may have two Super Bowl trophies on his shelf at home from his hard earned efforts on the field, but he says one of his biggest challenges took place off the field –diabetes.

He spoke about living with the disease at Straub Medical Center in Honolulu over the weekend, opening up about the difficulties of being a star athlete diagnosed with type 2 at 23 years old.

Simmons had just started his career in the NFL when he fell ill –with no idea what it was all about, but determined to overcome.

“I told myself from that day on, this will be a disease that will not stop me from doing what I wanna do,” said Simmons. “What motivates me the most is my family. Period.”

Simmons quickly dropped 45 pounds he says and was blind for a week before being diagnosed. He attributes his getting through it by learning all he could about his disease while keeping a strong focus on wellness.

“Everyday was a struggle, I never played a game where I felt perfect. So it was all more of a mental push than anything,” said Simmons.

He hopes he can inspire people who have diabetes from all walks of life.

“One of the things that pushes me to do what I do, there’s a deadly cycle that needs to be broken,” Simmons says. “And everybody’s household around the world, diabetes does not discriminate at all no matter the size, shape, color, whatever.”

Simmons was a first round NFL draft pick in 2002. He retired in 2011 after suffering an Achilles injury.

The diabetes speaking event in Hawaii was funded by a grant from Novo Nordisk, for whom Simmons is a spokesman for.