All City Football Lakewood

All-City Comeback Of The Year: Lakewood’s Marcell Lineberger Returns To Football After Chemotherapy

Many felt like the world stopped in March of 2020, but for Marcell Lineberger it was a chance to catch up and get back to what he loves.

The Lakewood wide receiver was diagnosed with Pancreatoblastoma, a rare type of pancreatic cancer, in December 2019. The inevitable delay of the 2020 high school football season gave Lineberger a chance to recover from six months of chemotherapy and return to the field with his Lancer teammates for the 2021 spring football season.

“It was absolutely tears of joy,” Lineberger’s mother Kimberly Johnson said after seeing her son play football again. “I didn’t care that he didn’t get a pass thrown to him. Just to see him out there in that uniform looking as good as he did… It felt like the day I had him.”

FEATURE: Lakewood Receiver Marcell Lineberger Beats Cancer, Returns To Football Field

Lineberger said he thought the diagnosis was a death sentence at first, but that the whole experience has made him feel stronger and more confident in himself.

He was even self-conscious about wearing a mask outdoors while going through chemotherapy, but then all of a sudden everyone around him had to wear masks as well due to the pandemic.

“You’d think I’d say, ‘I wish I never had this,’ but things happen for a reason,” Lineberger said. “I feel like God got a purpose for me because I’m still here after all of that happened. I think about it every day. I get motivated to work harder.”


Lineberger’s true character was revealed when The Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to find a way to cheer him up and he refused.

“He didn’t really want anything because he said, ‘That could go to another kid,’” Marcell’s father Marshall Lineberger said. “He didn’t want to bother anyone. I haven’t been around too many kids who are like that. I know how I would’ve been if I was in that situation. I’m meeting Joe Montana and Steve Young.”

“I’m more grateful (now) and I don’t take life for granted anymore,” Lineberger added. “You never know when it can be your last day.”’s Athletes of the Year

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.