TAMPA (FOX 13) - You may have seen him on the field as USF’s Rocky the Bull, spreading school spirit at many sporting events.
Now the USF community is helping keep his spirits high as he battles cancer.
Although it's been a difficult diagnosis to accept, the positive energy he brought to so many USF games is now shining through as he fights for a full recovery.
He was USF's Rocky the Bull, spreading green and gold fever on the fields and on the courts up until he graduated.
Milton Llinas, Jr. turned in his Rocky the Bull costume when he graduated in December. He was excited for life after college. But then he got sick.
"I just thought I had the flu," Milton said.
It turned out to be much more serious. Llinas was diagnosed with leukemia.
“I didn't want to believe it up until I got to Tampa General. I was hoping for a mistake or just for my body to have produced a lot of white blood cells from the flu," he remembers.
It's been just a few weeks since Llinas started treatment at Tampa General Cancer Center.
When USF learned its former mascot was fighting for his life, his successor paid him a special a visit. That positive spirit Llinas helped spread at so many college games is now helping him on this difficult journey.
His family has also been there every step of the way.
"[His diagnosis] was a shock for us. We started crying. It's like, what are we going to do now? What is the future?” remembers his mother, Carla Borda.
Milton’s father lives in Colombia and has been traveling to and from Tampa.
He says although it was devastating to learn of his son's illness he's feeling positive and says they will overcome this challenge together.
"I see this as an opportunity. Every challenge is an opportunity to grow," Milton said.
And with the fighting attitude of Rocky the Bull, he is determined to get better.
Llinas has two younger brothers with autism. He says they are his inspiration to recover.
He also says he wants to pursue his dreams of being a lawyer.
"For me, not getting better is not an option," Milton said. "I don't have a choice I think my only choice is to get better."