Our series “MVP Moms” explores the critical role moms play at the heart of families. The story of how Tori Foles overcame a series of health issues to be the mother of two children is one of tragedy and restoration.

Former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles has scaled the highest peaks in the National Football League. But he’d also be the first to tell you his tough-as-nails wife, Tori, is the real MVP — Most Valuable Parent — of the Foles household.

“She’s never wavered, never complained,” he says. “Knowing Tori before she was a mother and seeing her motherly instincts kick in has been so special. She’s just so strong.

“But I’ll say, it’s been a journey.”

Blossoming love

a photo of tori foles and nick foles

Pals at the University of Arizona, the Foles blossomed into a couple after graduation, reconnecting as Nick was embarking on his career as a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The budding star was in LA for a trading card event and called Tori to “catch up.” That’s when, he says, “God revealed our attraction for each other in a unique way that we weren’t expecting.”

Though he was in Philly and she was living in Portland, they cemented their romance with some long-distance dating and stolen weekends together.

“The foundation of who we have been and where we began was our friendship,” Nick says.

That bond proved crucial when they were forced to tackle challenges that would have sacked other couples.

First sign of trouble

While at a concert in Portland, Oregon, in 2013, Tori suddenly was overcome with feelings of weakness and nausea. “I just felt terrible…like I was going to pass out,” she says.

When the illness persisted the following day, she went to a doctor, who wrote it off as a “virus.”

The feeling just wouldn’t go away, though, so she visited a California neurologist, who diagnosed her with POTS [Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome], a little-known, debilitating neurological disease.

“I couldn’t spend more than a few minutes on my feet,” she says. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it.”

But she did know she could count on Nick to be there to help — and make things better.

Taking the next step

He flew Tori and her entire family to Arizona, where she would get treatment at the Mayo Clinic, and he would propose to her at his uncle’s home in Scottsdale in February 2014.

“Everyone came out, yelling, and jumping up and down,” he recalls. “I put the ring on, and we kissed and hugged and probably cried. It took our mind off what was going on.”

Two years later, the Foles were ready to be parents, but Tori was concerned about how her POTS would affect her ability to become a mom.

When her doctor encouraged her, they moved ahead — but Tori struggled with her pregnancy.

“I was extremely sick for the first 20 weeks,” she admits. Despite the early troubles, she gave birth to a healthy baby daughter, Lily, on June 16, 2017.

Their winning streak continued when Nick led Philly to an improbable Super Bowl win in 2017. After the season, he signed a big contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tori got pregnant again.

Near-death experience

But misfortune sacked their happiness once more. Fifteen weeks into her pregnancy, Tori came down with a sore throat, followed by a fever. Having gone to the ER but sent home to rest, she awoke later that night to her water breaking and rushed back to the hospital.

“It was the same pain as delivering at 40 weeks. It was full-on labor,” Tori says. “I had streptococcus pneumonia in my bloodstream. I was on my way to becoming septic.”

Knowing Tori before she was a mother and seeing her motherly instincts kick in has been so special. She’s just so strong.

Nick Foles

NFL quarterback

Tragically, the unexpected illness caused a miscarriage, and they lost the baby. But the early labor saved Tori’s life. “I wouldn’t have gone back to the hospital again if it weren’t for miscarrying,” Tori admits. “That baby was like an angel that saved me.”

“Life has gone on, but that child will always be part of our journey,” Nick adds.

Triumph over tragedy

Happily, the Foles went on to have another child, Duke, in June 2020. Tori says his arrival brought “restoration,” for sure.

“We know how much he’s meant to be here,” Tori says. “To have everything that happened, happen, he wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

a photo of tori foles and her family

For his part, Nick is inspired by Tori’s triumphs over tragedy and her ability to use that experience to excel as a mother.

“Breastfeeding, changing diapers — she’s exhausted all the time, and with POTS it’s tenfold,” he says. “She never complains. She just cares so much for these little beings.”

Tori recognizes their path has not been an easy one, but it has led to her being the mom she is today.

“If you start comparing your journey to others, then you can easily start to feel like you’re not good enough, or your kids don’t have a great mom. But I think it’s important to know that God has you on a path that’s special to me and my kids and their lives,” she says.

“We realize it’s hard along the way, and we’ve had tough moments and we’ll break down, but we ultimately know we’ll just put one foot in front of the other.

“We just figure it out as we go, which has been a theme for us.”

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Mike Hammer is a veteran journalist and editor whose byline has appeared in a broad landscape of top media outlets including Rolling Stone, USA Today, Maxim, Spin.com, Adweek and the New York Daily News.

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