ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - For Elisara Edwards, of Anchorage, a chance to compete for a title on NBC's Titan Games was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"When Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson had said he was creating this for everyday people who want to prove themselves and be worthy of being called a Titan," Edwards said, "I felt like he was talking to me."
Edwards, a college football player for Colorado State University, was preparing for the National Football League's Pro Day when his wife fell extremely ill.
"She went into the hospital," he said, "diagnosed with Stage 4 Lupus."
Seven months later, he said, she got pneumonia; and two days after she got pneumonia, she went into a coma. A week after that, at just 23 years old, she passed away.
"It was in that time I made the decision that my daughter needed me more than I needed football," Edwards said.
Slowly but surely, as he took care of his daughter with his wife there in spirit, he also rebuilt his passion of wanting to go back into the gym and being more health-conscious.
"I wanted to be a better example for my daughter," he said. "And when I got the call, I was like - I just couldn't believe it."
"The call" was from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who helped create the Titan Games. The show is "kind of in between American Gladiator and Ninja Warrior," as Edwards describes it, bringing in all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds.
"But we all feel like family," Edwards said. "I'm just glad that I can represent Anchorage."
Edwards did get a win before facing Mt. Olympus - the finale of sorts - on the show.
"My late wife was kind of a spiritual motivation for me," he said. "Anything I was going to face was something I would be able to handle. And that was my mentality going through it: Understand who I'm doing this for, why I'm doing this, and let that be my motivation.
"The reason I did it in the first place was because I wanted to let my daughter know that anything is possible, [whether] you have a single parent, you go through losing a loved one," he said.
He was pitted against another competitor, with whom he just so happened to attend the NFL combine years ago.
"It was like going against my brother," Edwards said. "That's what I loved about my competition. And there were definitely crazy obstacles.
"'The Rock' is psycho for putting this all together," he laughed. "The things he comes up with? I'm like, 'Yo, this is crazy.' We didn't know what to expect. And Mt. Olympus is just a monster of a hill, and the things we had to do on there - I was bleeding towards the end of it."
Edwards was seconds away from moving on as a Battle Champion - one of eight competitors looking to claim the last two spots in the following week's Battle of the Titans - when his run on the hit series came to an end last week: He was barely edged out by another competitor.
"I felt like I gave it everything I had and prepared as much as I could for what I knew about it," he said. "It definitely wasn't the outcome I wanted, but I was just grateful for the opportunity.
"The whole experience was pretty much a win for me," he said.
Edwards said that, being a tight end, he was used to competing against bigger guys; the Titan Games, however, is a totally different beast.
Don't get it twisted, though: He's unfazed by his season being cut short this time around.
Edwards said that if there's another run of the Titan Games, he's hoping to be part of it again, and he has no intentions of leaving without a fight.
"We'll see," he said. "You never know. But regardless - those who got the title of Titan, and those who failed in the process - those are the things that make us Titans. Embrace failure. Keep pushing forward."