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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


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 that 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 23rd, his career

took a turn he didn't expect.

TIM HIGHTOWER: I was feeling good.

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

I cut.

I see a hole.

I go through it.

Next thing you know, just my knee just cracks, just buckles.

Never had that kind of feeling before,

pain that I've never felt.

What was your biggest fear?

TIM HIGHTOWER: The biggest fear was,

this is it, that it just ended.

My career at 23 or 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's your heart toward your family?

Where is your heart towards the game?

Forgetting your purpose-- and why are you

were initially here?

What brought the favor of God upon your life?

Man, I know He was working on this heart the whole time.

NARRATOR: Tim realized over the years,

he'd begun to loose 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.

It went from the different, hey, the knee, or the money,

or the this, or the that, or 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.

And, you know, as the years, and the months, and the surgeries

passed, I'm like, OK, all right, OK, God, all right, what's up?

What kind of timetable, you know, 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 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.

Now I'm working, doing commercial real estate.

And remember sitting in the office

and seeing this phone rang, my agent, and Saints

just you know, they want to sign you.

They're sending the contract.

I don't know if I could 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 out of his crib-- and um,

man, oh.

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 your 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,

and that all of our experiences, good, bad,

however you feel, no matter where you come from,

God can use you, man.

He can use you.

He can use your story and your purpose.

Man, you can connect and impact so many people.

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