Honoring H.S. athletes who inspire greatness on and off the field.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants Defensive End, #90


Sabastian Quinn, West Morris Mendham High School, Mendham, NJ

Heart of a Giant | Jason Pierre-Paul, Heart of a Giant Ambassador

“It’s all about willpower. If your heart is in it, you can achieve anything.”

- Jason Pierre-Paul, Heart of a Giant Ambassador


2017 Heart of a Giant Award Weekly Nominees


USA Football’s Heart of a Giant award program, presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants, aims to recognize Tri-State area high school football players who demonstrate unparalleled work ethic and a passion for the game.

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


Unshakable work ethic in training and preparation. Exhibits a “first in, last one 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.


Find 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.


Many people thought that All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s devastating hand injury in July 2015 would end his football career. But JPP was determined to get back in the game and prove that he could be even better than before. With the help of Dr. Scott Rodeo, Dr. Robert Hotchkiss, the staff at Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants, JPP continues to thrive as a professional football player and one of the top defensive ends in the league. JPP’s willpower and determination to overcome adversity are what led to a natural partnership with HSS, USA Football and the New York Giants in support of the USA Football Heart of a Giant program, presented by HSS and the New York Giants. As the #1 hospital for orthopedics in the nation, HSS is known for treating professional athletes and weekend warriors alike, and is also strongly committed to the health and safety of youth and high school athletes. Together, HSS, USA Football, the New York Giants, and JPP are partnering to recognize these young athletes for their commitment in demonstrating unparalleled work ethic, perseverance in the face of adversity, leadership in their local community, and a determination to inspire their teammates.


About Hospital for Special Surgery

Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is the world’s largest academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics and No. 2 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2016-2017), and is the first hospital in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. HSS has one of the lowest infection rates in the country. HSS is an affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College and as such all Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are faculty of Weill Cornell. The hospital’s research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.


Tri-state area high school coaches can nominated one player from the team that best embodies what it means to have the Heart of a Giant.

USA Football will review all nominations and announce ten deserving nominees per week over the course of six weeks on usafootball.com/heartofagiant.

Nominees are urged to “campaign for their votes” within their communities and to teammates, classmates, friends, and family. Votes can be cast at usafootball.com/heartofagiant.

All voting will remain open for each week’s group for 25 days and the nominee with the most votes from each week’s group will be named one of six finalists.

All six finalists will be required to submit an original video showcasing why they have the Heart of a Giant.

USA Football, Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants will review all finalist video submissions and identify one grand prize winner.

High school coaches from NY, NJ and CT can nominate athletes for a chance to win a $5,000 equipment grant for their program and to honor a special student-athlete.

Six Finalists Receive:

  • $1,500 equipment grant for their high school football programs
  • USA Football Heart of a Giant presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and New York Giants gift bag

Grand Prize Winner Receives:

  • Heart of a Giant presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and New York Giants trophy
  • $5,000 equipment grant for his or her high school football program
  • On-field award ceremony during a New York Giants’ home game


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.

Watch the Video


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.

Watch the Video


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.

Watch the Video


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.

Watch the Video


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