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EMU Athletics holds press conference for EMU Football's Brian Dooley and Zack Conti after heartwarming story receives national spotlight

It was no secret to the football team that fourth year walk-on Zack Conti would donate plasma and do landscaping jobs in order to make money to pay for bills, his education, and cover other expenses while being a full-time student-athlete. 

On July 31, Conti would receive life changing news due to a selfless act from his teammate, Brian Dooley, who is redefining what it means to be a brother, teammate, and friend.

With only two classes left in his masters program, Dooley, an offensive lineman for Eastern Michigan, gave his football scholarship to Conti who was a walk-on after hearing that he might quit due to financial hardships.

After talking it over with his family and gaining their full support, the kind gesture brought Dooley’s mother to tears hearing that he wanted to give up his scholarship for the sake of another player.

“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Dooley said. “If it helps him more then by all means, I'm gonna give it to him and hopefully I can later down the road help him out even more."

Head football coach, Chris Creighton, announced the news during a meeting as the team wrapped up its first day of fall camp.

The announcement was captured in a video that garnered more than 13,000 views on the team’s YouTube channel and since has made its way around social media gaining attention from media outlets like ESPN, Good Morning America, ABC and more over the last week.

Due to the amount of media attention it received, EMU Athletics would hold a press conference on Tuesday afternoon for the media where Dooley spoke about the heartwarming moment.

"It was the smile; it was awesome for us. We're all like a family and that's how we react, nothing was fake about it," Dooley said.

"He (Conti) called me later that night and congratulated me and he still does to this day. I know it's only been a couple of days, but he says thank you every single time and I wouldn’t change it." 

Speaking to the true meaning of brotherhood, Dooley says EMU’s O-line has a bond that's truly hard to break and can all count on one another.

“That's why I just feel like I needed to have Conti’s back throughout these couple of years that he has left, and I feel like Conti would do the same thing,” he said. 

A lot of times other players would ask where Conti was and the answer was simply, working. 

On days when it was nice outside, or after a workout, some of the players would go to the pool but Conti couldn’t because he had to work. 

“It was always tough when some of your guys weren't there,” Dooley said. “I look back to it and it kind of hurts because you want to build relationships with guys on and off the field.”

Sometimes Conti’s teammates didn’t see him until 7 or 8 p.m. after workouts that were at 6 a.m. 

In a prior interview held by EMU Athletics, Conti shared the motivation behind his hardwork and dedication, which ultimately got him where he is today. 

When I first got to Eastern, I was underdeveloped," Conti stated. "Seeing guys older than me, Brian for example, doing stuff that I wanted to do, it was real motivation for me to keep my head down and go for it," he added. 

"Over the years, the compiled hardwork, the consistency, it worked out for me," Conti said. 

Unfortunately due to feeling a little overwhelmed with the amount of attention, Conti was not at Tuesday’s press conference, but Dooley decided that he still wanted to show up for Conti. 

“He's a great guy and will probably be the best man at my wedding," Dooley said. “Our friendship is tight, it's unbreakable.”

The biggest message Dooley wants people to take away from this all of this is don't judge a book by its cover. “You really got to dive into people's lives to see how they really work,” he said.