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CBN.com Speed was his meal ticket in the NFL, and Alexander Wright could run like the wind. He played for three teams -- the Cowboys, the Raiders, and the Rams. Fame and fortune followed him at every turn during his seven year professional career. But fueling his speed was a painful past.
"Most of my childhood life was lived in fear. Whenever my dad would come home drunk, just wasted from alcohol or whatever substances he’d taken that week, he was just a different man. All of a sudden the family member became the enemy," Alexander tells The 700 Club.
His father's flare-ups were uncontrollable and unpredictable. Alexander's mother left her husband on several occasions, fleeing with their four boys for up to eight months at a time.
"But she loved my dad, and we always came back home. Two or three months would go by, we’d be at home and there would be tremendous peace... and then there would be another blow up," he remembers. "He broke my mom’s legs, so she couldn’t run away again -- literally broke her legs."
Alexander's innocence was shattered. He tried to escape into sports.
"My tenth grade year, I chose to try sports to get out of my home, to get away. That’s when I started running track," he says.
Alexander also went out for football. His speed caught the attention of college scouts -- who signed him to play at Auburn. But he didn't see much playing time until his senior year. In the final game of that season, Alexander played a key role in Auburn's victory over rival Alabama.
"The following week I’m getting letters and I’m getting calls from NFL teams. All of a sudden because of that one game -- none of the other games -- just that one game, and now overnight ... I’m a projected NFL prospect," he recalls.
College sweetheart and eventual wife, Veerla Wright knew about Alexander's past -- but married him anyways. What she didn't expect was that the cycle of abuse would continue into their marriage.
"The same things that he experienced as a child and what he saw his mother going through -- some of that was starting to come out as well," says Veerla.
"I was becoming my Dad ... rebelling against authority and talking back to the coaches. I had serious issues with anger," adds Alexander.
"The shoves became punches. There were a couple times that I had marks and things like that, it was very embarrassing," says Veerla.
"What I was doing to my wife behind closed doors wasn’t right. I knew it, but I never reached out for help," says Alexander.
In 1991, after a subpar season, the Dallas Cowboys were making plans to end the relationship with Alexander. His wife was making similar plans -- to divorce him.
"I’m on the verge of losing my job, on the verge of losing everything. My wife already had the papers for divorce," says Alexander.
But that same year, Alexander's mother became a Christian. When she learned a pastor visiting her church was from Dallas, she asked him to contact her son.
"She gave this man my number. She told him, ‘Call Alexander, he does not know the Lord, he’s gonna lose his wife.’ "
Pastor Kenneth Mack made the call. Surprisingly, Alexander accepted his invitation to meet and for the first time, heard the message of salvation.
"And what was taught to me that day I understood crystal clear," recalls Alexander.
"About 40 minutes into it -- I mean to tell you all of a sudden, he just burst out weeping and crying and responding, ‘I want to be saved. I want the Holy Spirit, and I want to be baptized,’" remembers Pastor Mack.
"You hear about young baby Christians, and they are just so excited and in love with God. That was him [Alexander]! He was reading his Bible, and he was doing Bible studies," says Veera. "I was just like, ‘Who is this guy?’ and I’m like, ‘Is this for real?’ I was very cynical, and still dark spots would show up."
Yet Veerla saw enough initial evidence of change in Alexander's life to believe in the redemptive power of God. Several months later, she too gave her life to Jesus Christ. But those 'dark spots' Veerla feared soon began to resurface. Alexander was still trying to run free from his past.
"We had been married nine years, and we'd still get into fights, and they would still wind up physical. We’d been saved long enough and I was just like, ‘That’s it.' "
Veerla told Alexander, "These boys, I do not want them to wind up like you."
She also said, "This daughter, she is never gonna think it’s okay to be hit by a man or even be held by a man against her will. Is this the example you want to set for her? Do you want her to wind up with a boyfriend or a husband like you?"
Veerla's ultimatum led Alexander to finally seek help outside himself.
"It was a process for me to walk into counseling with Godly men and pastors, for my anger and to learn to be gentle, and then to also to confess sins," Alexander says.
Veerla adds: "Do we still get in arguments? Sure. But now I don’t even have to think he will raise a hand to me. He’s proven that because I’ve tested him in those areas as well."
Today Alexander and Veerla enjoy the peace of God in their home and marriage. And yet, despite their healing, Alexander admits the pain of the past may never be easy to share.
"I still run. I ran from this interview. I was pleading with God not to do this. I cried before this interview because two days ago, I knew we were going to be discussing something that I probably didn’t want to discuss. I think I’ve been running all my life," shares Alexander.
"And and it’s because of the changes that have happened in him which have brought about the changes in me -- wanting to become more of a Godly wife and more of a Godly woman because now I have reason. He is very much the leader of this household. He is the spiritual leader. He is the financial provider. He is the man that God intended man to be," says his wife, Veerla.
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