Tevin and Akilah Coleman are determined to make a difference. The NFL star and his wife both knew growing up that they carried the sickle cell gene but didn’t realize how that would impact them as they started their family. Speaking with PEOPLE to discuss the auctioning of his cleats as part of the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats, the veteran running back and his wife shared how their journey into sickle cell advocacy began after their daughter Nazaneen was diagnosed.
Tevin and Akilah welcomed their twins, Nazaneen and Nezerah, in 2017, and found out about Nazaneen’s unique health needs when she was just an infant. “I knew something was up,” Akilah tells PEOPLE. “My son, they knew he didn’t have it but pretty instantly, with my daughter, we had to go back and do a couple of different tests because they knew that there was something going on. It was confirmed around four months.”