In the neighborhood where I grew up, if you heard squealing tires, you ducked.
It was south central Los Angeles, an area of terrible gangs and drug-infested neighborhoods, where death was very common. There were people being killed all the time, sometimes for no reason other than wearing the wrong color in the wrong place.
I was terrified. I was afraid to die. My mother could see it in my eyes. I told her how afraid I was. Right there and then, she shared the Gospel with me. She told me that if I had faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again, Id be saved. She led me through a prayer to receive Jesus into my heart.
And from that moment on, I had peace. From that moment on, I had no fear. The neighborhood didnt change. There were still gangs and shootings. There were still people dying. There were still drugs. In fact, my own family had been ravaged by the effects of drugs and alcohol, but I had peace.
Looking back, I know that God had His hand on me from an early age. In fact, I feel Ive had a very special relationship with the Lord from a very young age. He used me, even as a child, to have an influence on kids around me, and gave me wisdom not everyone my age had. He allowed me to go through all kinds of experiences so that I could empathize with things people around me were feeling. I have been so blessed, and I continue to be blessed.
Now Im playing professional football, which never really was a goal of mine. I didnt play football until college, and the only reason I went out for football in college was to keep busy and stay focused until basketball season. But I took a liking to it, and one thing led to another. I had a good first year, was a pre-season All American, and played on a team that won the Junior College National Championship. Then it was on to Wayne, and then professional football, in the XFL, the Arena League, and now the NFL.
Of course, there were those who said I wouldnt make it. I was too skinny, some said. I was only a Junior College player, some said. I learned, at an early age, that there are always detractors, and there always will be.
But I have learned not to listen to the detractors. Instead, I put my trust in God. In fact, I am living testimony that if you place your trust in God, no matter what else happens in all of life, you still will have peace and everlasting love. I have learned to live by the words of the Scripture passage that gives direction to my life: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight." (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
I look back on my life, and the neighborhood I came from. It would have been so easy for me to have turned like so many others drugged out, hopeless, or dead. But God laid His hand on me.
I havent been perfect, but I know who my blessings come from, and who the Lord of my life is. I know that everything I have is from Him. And I know that without Him - even if I were still to be a professional football player without Him, I would be nothing.
Ive moved away from the old neighborhood, but Ive never moved away from the One who gave me peace, and He will never move away from me.
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