All Blacks Sevens star Trael Joass was advised by doctors to give up rugby earlier in his career after realising he had heart issues, but after surgery in 2014 he pursued his dream of playing footy.
On Monday in San Francisco, Joass achieved what would have seemed impossible four years ago – he became a Rugby World Cup Sevens champion.
"Four years ago I couldn't do anything, but it (heart problems) taught me that hard times don't last forever. You've got two choices, let it overtake your life or you just be a better man from it," said Joass.
The 25-year-old underwent heart surgery in 2014 after heart complications he had suffered from since the age of 16.
Joass made his debut for the New Zealand Sevens last year and captained the Tasman Mako in the Mitre 10 Cup competition in 2017.
"It's not easy, a lot of dark times. But whatever it takes to come out on the other side you will be a better person for it.
"I think it taught me to stick to what I love, know what I want and just got to give it everything or otherwise it can be gone (opportunity) in a second.
"I guess it just taught me to be true to myself and remember who I am and my roots."
It was fitting that Joass scored the last try for New Zealand which cemented them the 31-12 win against England and back-to-back world titles.
He credited his family for motivating him to keep fighting.
"Without them (family) I'm nothing," he said.
"I'm probably just a Māori back in Whangārei doing the wrong things, so they've (family) been huge. They have more belief in me than I believe in myself."
Joass has signed with Bay of Plenty and will have a week off before trying to make the Mitre 10 Cup playing squad. The NPC competition kicks off next month.