Into the fire

Tom Zbikowski had it all. The Chicago native was a star safety at Notre Dame and a professional boxer. His heavy hits, daring return skills and big-play ability made him a rare two-time captain and helped him play five seasons in the NFL with two teams.

But under the surface, Zbikowski was a man waging war against himself. Drugs, an addiction to alcohol and a hard-partying lifestyle made living past 30 years old unlikely, until Zbikowski decided to get clean and change his life, for the better.

After completing rehab, Zbikowski emerged a new man, but one without purpose. That is, until he found hope and direction in a place his family had called home for years, the Chicago Fire Department.

Now, Zbikowski is an assistant football coach at a local high school with dreams of being head coach at the university that made him a star. Until then, he’s just as happy rushing into the fire to save lives the same way he once did to score touchdowns.