Long before he began the fight with his emotions that erupted after the death of his sister in a car crash in May, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Brian Price began a battle with his body in which he never quite seemed to grab the lead.
More than a year removed from a pair of radical surgical procedures designed to re-attach his hamstrings to his fractured pelvis, Price finally has regained the physical form he needs to begin justifying the Bucs' decision to select him with a second-round draft choice in 2010.
"Physically he's ready to go,'' Price's agent, Charles Price (no relation), said Tuesday from his Los Angeles office. "He's under 300 pounds, he's put in a lot of time and effort and he is in substantially better condition than he was when last year's training camp opened.''
Training camp opened last year with Price limited by after-effects of the surgeries, which called in part for Price's pelvis to be fused together in such a way that his hamstrings would no longer rip it apart.
While he went on to record 28 tackles, three sacks and 10 quarterback pressures in 15 games, he never played at better than "60-percent,'' he told The Tampa Tribune last season.
But an offseason spent working largely with personal trainer Alex Guererro, who worked with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after his knee operation and specializes in breaking up scar tissue, has seemingly left Price in the best shape of his pro career.
"He is still working through tremendous amounts of scar tissue that, when they bump up against the sciatic nerve, send sensations throughout the body,'' Charles Price said. "But I think everyone will be pleased with where he is.
"For at least another year, there are always going to be lingering issues from the procedures that he's had to have done. But the Bucs are going to be pleased with the way this kid looks when ne gets to camp.''
Brian Price could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The Bucs no doubt will be pleased just to see Price at camp. Overwhelmed by grief after the death of his sister Bridget, a 30-year-old single mother raising 7- and 9-year-old sons, Price collapsed from physical and mental exhaustion at One Buc Place one day shortly after the accident and had to be hospitalized.
He spent four days in the hospital. Even after his release, Price was not in the right physical state or frame of mind to focus on football. After he got into a fight with rookie teammate Mark Barron, Price was given permission to go home to Los Angeles and skip the rest of offseason workouts and the mandatory minicamp.
Bucs coach Greg Schiano said at the start of the minicamp he was unsure whether Price would be back in time for the start of camp, but it appears he will return in better physical shape than ever.
Price's mental state, however, is still a little fragile, Charles Price said. Bridget was the third sibling Price has lost in a tragic manner since before he left high school.
"No one has been struck by more bad luck and personal tragedy than this kid,'' Charles Price said of Brian, who grew up in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles and lost two brothers to gang-related shootings before he was 15.
"And Bridget was his bedrock. She was the one he leaned on after he lost his two brothers, and her loss was just too much for him. It was tragic in so many ways, not the least of which is the fact she was the mother of 7- and 9-year-old boys.''
Brian Price and his wife, Candace Davis Price, who fell just short of making the U.S. Olympic track team this summer as a hurdler, are making plans to adopt Price's two nephews.
"He'll be stronger because of all of this, because that's the kind of guy he is,'' Charles Price said. "No matter what is thrown at him, he keeps on going. He never gives up.''