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NFL Running Back Achieves Career Comeback With a Pure Heart

After 4 years out of the NFL during his prime, Tim Hightower completed his improbable return to the game with the New Orleans Saints in 2015. This time, things were different. Read Transcript


[MUSIC PLAYING]

NARRATOR: New Orleans Saints running back

Tim Hightower was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2008.

In his rookie season, he set a franchise record

for total touchdowns by a first year player with 13.

He also helped the Cardinals make it

to their very first Super Bowl.

Then in 2011, he was traded to Washington.

In his first five games with the Redskins,

he rushed for 321 yards and two touchdowns.

He says as a boy growing up in northern Virginia,

he was taught that faith in God is the key to success

with a firm foundation.

My pastor taught me more is caught than taught.

One thing that I caught was to have a strong faith.

NARRATOR: Tim's career was on the rise.

Little did he know his faith was about to be tested.

During a game on October 23, his career

took a turn he didn't expect.

TIM HIGHTOWER: I was feeling good.

I'd make a run that I've done hundreds of times.

I cut I see a hole, I go through it,

and next thing you know my knee just cracks, just buckles.

Never had that kind of feeling before,

pain that I've never felt.

What was your biggest fear?

The biggest fear was this is it.

That it just ended my career at 24 years old, just ended.

What now?

NARRATOR: Tim had torn his ACL, which

meant he needed surgery and extensive rehabilitation.

So he couldn't play for the rest of the season.

He was eventually cut from the team.

After surgery, he had no idea how he was going

to make it back to the field.

So he began praying to ask God for answers.

But the Lord began asking him some questions.

Where is your heart towards me?

Where is your heart towards your family?

Where is your heart towards the game?

Forgetting your purpose-- why are you initially here?

What brought the favor of God upon your life?

I know he was working on this heart the whole time.

NARRATOR: Tim realized over the years

he'd begun to lose focus on what really mattered.

TIM HIGHTOWER: There are a lot of things, I think,

coming into the NFL that tested my faith.

The whole pride, the whole pride and the jealousy.

NARRATOR: He now understood that in order

for God to heal his leg, he needed to allow

him to clean his heart.

So his prayers began to change.

TIM HIGHTOWER: It went from the different, hey, the knee

or the money or this or the that to you know what,

I just want a pure heart again.

NARRATOR: Tim rededicated his whole heart back to the Lord,

and believed he would return to the field.

But it took a lot longer than he anticipated.

I didn't know how long it would be.

As the years and the months and the surgeries passed,

I'm like, OK God, what's up?

What kind of timetable are we working with?

It took everything I had.

It took everything.

I literally made a commitment that I'm all in.

I will play football again.

My son will see me play, my family will see me play,

and people will see because this is bigger than me.

NARRATOR: Tim continued to pray and condition

his leg so that he would be ready when an offer came.

Then nearly four years later, he received

the call he'd been waiting for.

And now I'm working, doing commercial real estate,

and I remember sitting in that office

and seeing this phone rang, my agent.

And saying they want to sign you.

They're sending the contract.

I don't know if I can quite describe this feeling.

When you fight so hard for something,

and you believe in something so strongly,

and when that prayer is answered,

I just remember running home.

I wanted to go grab my son.

I wanted to go get my son.

I remember just picking him up at his crib and man.

NARRATOR: Tim signed with the New Orleans

Saints for the 2015 season.

In the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars,

he rushed for a career high 122 yards and two touchdowns.

Tim Hightower was back.

Now heading into this season, he says

he has his priorities in order, and he's not allowing fame

to go to his head or his heart.

What is it that you want people to learn,

just hearing his story?

I really want people not to marvel at me or anything

that I've accomplished.

I want them to know that man, we all have a purpose.

And when we know that we have a purpose

and we know that man, there's somebody out

there who created us and who loves us so much

that all of our experiences, good, bad, however feel,

no matter where you come from, God can use you.

He can use you, he can use your story and your purpose,

you can connect and impact so many people.

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