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Athlete Faces Identity Crisis at Career’s End

Football paved the way out of poverty for Derwin Gray, but it soon became his identity. As his playing career was winding down and his marriage was falling apart, Derwin needed a new motivation. Read Transcript


TO FORMER NFL PLAYER DERWIN

GRAY, FOOTBALL WAS MUCH MORE

THAN A GAME.

FOOTBALL WAS MY GOD.

IT TOLD ME WHO I WAS, HOW GOOD I

WAS AND WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO.

FOOTBALL WAS MY TICKET TO THE

AMERICAN DREAM TO ESCAPE THE

HELL I WAS IN.

REPORTER: FOR DERWIN, HELL

WAS GROWING UP IN SANT' ANTONIO

TEXAS.

HIS DAD LEFT AS A CHILD AND HIS

MOM STRUGGLED TO CARE FOR HIM.

EARLY ON HE FELT THE STING OF

REJECTION.

WHY ISN'T MY DAD AROUND?

WHY ISN'T HE COMING TO MY GAME?

WHY DO I ONLY SEE HIM

SPORADICALLY?

REPORTER: IT WAS HIS

GRANDMOTHER WHO KEPT HIM

FOCUSSED ON SCHOOL AND HE COULD

BE GREAT.

SHE ENCOURAGED ME.

SHE SAID YOU ARE GOING TO BE

SOMEBODY.

I REMEMBER SAYING YOU KNOW, I AM

GOING TO DO SOMETHING WITH MY

LIFE.

REPORTER: THAT SOMETHING WAS

FOOTBALL.

I LEARNED REAL QUICK.

FOOTBALL GIVES ME AN IDENTITY.

I AM A FOOTBALL PLAYER.

FOOTBALL GIVES ME SIGNIFICANCE,

MAN, I AM A GOOD FOOTBALL

PLAYER.

REPORTER: IT WAS HIS

BITTERNESS TOWARDS HIS DAD TO

SUCCEED.

I AM GOING TO MAKE IT WITHOUT

YOU.

I AM GOING TO PROVE YOU WRONG.

YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED.

WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN ME, I WAS

TRYING TO PROVE TO HIM I WAS

WORTH STAYING FOR.

REPORTER: HE SAW FOOTBALL AS

HIS TICKET OUT.

HE WORKED TIRELESSLY.

I CAN PLAY FOOTBALL FOR A

GREAT COACH, BE ON TV AND GET A

GREAT EDUCATION.

REPORTER: ON CAMPUS, DERWIN

VICKI, A TRACK ATHLETE.

THEY MARRIED.

GRADUATING HE WAS DRAFTED

COLTS.INDIANAPOLIS

IT WAS VINDICATING.

WE DID IT.

MY FAMILY MAY HAVE BEEN HAPPIER

THAN I WAS.

WE DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF GOOD

NEWS TO SHARE OUT OF THE GRAY

FAMILY.

THIS WAS GOOD NEWS.

REPORTER: DERWIN ADMITS HE

WASN'T A GOOD HUSBAND.

I REALLY DIDN'T CARE.

I LOVED MY WIFE BUT I DIDN'T

KNOW WHAT BEING A HUSBAND WAS.

REPORTER: HE WOULD ASK HIS

TEAMMATES DO YOU KNOW JESUS.

I DIDN'T WANT ANYTHING TO DO

WITH JESUS.

REPORTER: VICKI BECAME A

CHRISTIAN AND BEGAN TO PRAY FOR

HER HUSBAND'S SALVATION.

I FOUND MYSELF WANTING MY

HUSBAND TO HAVE THE SAME HOPE.

REPORTER: DERWIN REALIZED HIS

NFL CAREER WOULD COME TO AN END.

I KNEW ONE DAY THEY WOULD

TELL ME YOU CAN'T PLAY ANYMORE

AND I WOULD BLOW AWAY THIS GOD

OF FOOTBALL.

IF THEY TAKE FOOTBALL, THEY TAKE

MY IDENTITY, SIGNIFICANCE AND

MISSION.

THEREFORE, THEY TAKE ME.

REPORTER: AS THE INJURIES

MOUNTED, DERWIN NEEDED

ENCOURAGEMENT.

HE STARTED ASKING HIS TEAMMATE

ABOUT JESUS.

I SAW THE WAY HE LOVED HIS

WIFE.

WHEN I STARTED GETTING HURT, I

STARTED LISTENING.

WE GO THROUGH YEAR FOUR, GOING

GOOD, MAKE IT TO THE PLAYOFFS.

MAN, I GET HURT AGAIN.

REPORTER: DERWIN'S HEALTH

CONTINUED TO DETERIORATE.

HE KNEW HE NEEDED MORE.

I HAD THIS FEELING OF

EMPTINESS.

WHAT I KNEW IS MAN, I NEED TO BE

LOVED.

I NEED FORGIVENESS, I NEED WREST

FOR MY SOUL.

I NEED TO FORGIVE MY DAD.

I RECOGNIZE THAT I HAD THIS

WOMAN I COULD NOT LOVE NO MATTER

HOW HARD I TRIED.

REPORTER: THEN HE CALLED

VIC

VICKI.

I SAID I WANT TO BE MORE

COMMITTED TO YOU.

BEFORE SHE COULD SAY ANYTHING

THESE WORDS ROLLED OFF MY TONGUE

AND I WANT TO BE COMMITTED TO

JESUS.

MAN, WHEN THAT HAPPENED, BEST

WAY I CAN DESCRIBE IT I KNEW FOR

THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I WAS

LOVED.

WHEN JESUS WENT TO THE CROSS,

THAT WAS GOD, THE FATHER SAYING

DERWIN, I LOVE YOU.

ONCE DERWIN CAME TO FAITH IN

CHRIST, SOME OF THE BIGGEST

CHANGES I SAW WERE WHAT HE

VALUED CHANGED.

I WAS WATCHING DERWIN'S PASSION

TO BE A HUSBAND AND FATHER GROW

AND PASSION TO BE A FOOTBALL

PLAYER STARTED TO LESSEN.

HE WENT ON TO PLAY WITH THE

CAROLINA PANTHERS BEFORE WE

TIRING.

AT THE TIME, JESUS WAS MY

GOD.

I WAS HAPPY.

THE MORE I STUDIED, THE MORE I

LEARNED.

THE MORE I KNEW HIM, MORE I

LOVED HIM AND KNEW HIM.

MY LIFE WAS BEING TRANSFORMED,

CHANGED THE WAY I INTERACTED AS

A HUSBAND AND FATHER AND EVEN MY

PURPOSE FOR LIFE.

REPORTER: DERWIN ALSO FORGAVE

HIS FATHER AND PUT AWAY THE

BITTERNESS.

SINCE THEN WITH TWO CHILDREN, HE

AND VICKI HAVE STARTED

TRANSFORMATION CHURCH IN

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA.

I AM GOING TO LIVE IN YOU AND

HOUSE IN YOU.

SIN. DEFEATED MY PAST, MY

LIFE.S IN M

LOOKING BACK I SEE EVERY

REJECTION I RECEIVED WOULD MAKE

THE INVITATION OF CHRIST SO MUCH

BETTER BECAUSE REJECTION MEANT

THAT SOMEBODY DID NOT WANT ME.

BUT CHRIST'S INVITATION SAYS I

WANT YOU.

EMBED THIS VIDEO


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