ALA – Queen Creek’s Cluff Overcoming Family Hardship

2 years ago Andrew Luberda 0

Take it from those who know, cancer sucks.

The Cluff family is among that group.

Ethen Cluff is a junior at American Leadership Academy – Queen Creek and one of the top performers on the Patriots football team. He led the team in receiving yards, tied for the team with six touchdown receptions, and was the team’s leading punt returner this recently-ended season.

“He does it so well that a lot of times (it might be) easy to forget that he’s going through it,” ALA offensive coordinator Max Hall answered, when asked how Cluff has successfully separated his performance on the field from the hardship he and his family are dealing with at home. “He works hard every day and he uses it as motivation to give everything he’s got and take advantage of his opportunity here.”

Cluff found a way to perform at a high level despite his mother, Elizabeth, an eight-year breast cancer survivor, being re-diagnosed earlier this year with the disease, which has spread to her spine and other parts of her body.

“They started her on a treatment plan (and) she’s been doing really well,” Ethen told “She gets shots and injections to take out the cancer.

“Some days she’s kind of down, but she’s always there for me and our family doing whatever she can for us. She came out to (some games) after getting shots in the morning and was out there the whole time despite that she was hurting. I love my mom so much.”



The Patriots have been the beneficiaries of Cluff’s ability to focus when he’s on the football field.

“(On) Friday nights my mind switches to game mode,” he said. “I focus on the field, on my team, how (the other team) is lined up on me, and what the defense is showing us.”

When the Friday Night Lights are turned off, he appears to handle his family’s situation as well as can be expected.

“Off the field, I still like normal life,” Cluff said. “My family, we act like everything is normal, even though we’ve got hardships, we’re close with each other. We don’t forget about it because we always know it’s there. I just push through it and think of the positive things I have, like she’s still here with me.”

Patriots’ coaches are keeping close tabs on their star playmaker.

“Every once-in-a-while you want to pull him in, put your arm around him, and make sure he’s doing ok,” Hall said.

Indeed, he is.