Now the Houston Texans running back is hoping what he went through can help raise awareness about the importance of breast cancer screening.
Moats, along with players across the NFL, will wear pink shoes and gloves starting this week as part of the NFL's "Crucial Catch" campaign.
"If I could change anything I would love for it not to happen and for Jo to be here," Moats told The Associated Press about his mother-in-law. "But bad things happen and you can make good things out of them."
Moats found himself in the middle of a national story this spring when he was stopped outside a hospital near Dallas. He had rolled through a red light while trying to get his wife there to see her mother before she died.
Video from a dashboard camera captured the almost 13-minute incident in which the officer pulled his gun and threatened to arrest Moats instead of allowing him inside despite pleas that his mother-in-law was dying.
His wife, Tamishia, rushed into the hospital despite the officer's orders to get back in the SUV, and she was able to reach her mother before she died. By the time Moats was released, the 45-year-old Collinsworth had died.
The police officer resigned from the Dallas Police department, but he has since been hired elsewhere in Texas.
"Because of what happened people recognize us and know what we went through and what my mom went through, and that way we can help get the word out to other people," Tamishia said. "So if we can help one person to get detected and find out that they have cancer and get it treated early, then that's enough for us."
Ryan Moats said Collinsworth worked to increase awareness about breast cancer during her three-year fight with the disease.
"This gives me the opportunity to show the world who she was and what she was all about and kind of leave a legacy in a way," Moats said. "So that gives us the opportunity to affect other people's lives. We're trying our best to make a positive thing out of it."