Gerald McCoy: Why Did You Take My Mother?
By Jonathan Cyprowski
The 700 Club
As third overall draft pick in this year's NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, former Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy knows a thing or two about rising to the occasion. In fact, he says rising to the occasion is something he has had to do his entire life.
In the state of Oklahoma, football is a way of life. With a winning legacy that spans seven national championships and 144 All-American players, every young boy’s dream is to play for the Oklahoma Sooners. At 6’4, 295 pounds, Gerald McCoy is a man among boys. As a parade all-American in high-school, freshman defensive player of the year, this all-American was a captain on the number one college football team in the country.
“It’s a passion of mine, and really, I feel God put me here to do that,” Gerald said. “I just love playing football.”
Growing up in nearby Oklahoma City, Gerald had the same dreams that so many others before him did: football glory wearing the crimson and cream. By the time he reached high school, Gerald was among the elite football recruits in the nation. Despite growing up with Christian parents, Gerald was no stranger to living life on the wild side.
“I was this freshman starting with the varsity guys,” Gerald said. “So going to the parties, and going here, and being there, and doing this and doing that - is what was expected of me because of the people I hung out with.”
Soon Gerald found out he would have to grow up fast.
“I found out I was going to have a child the end of my junior year,” Gerald said, “and I had her two days before national signing day, my senior year.”
Gerald’s parents were concerned for their son’s future.
“I didn’t know what it meant to be a father. I was 17,” Gerald said. “I was still worried about high school and playing video games. I was in the middle of being recruited by colleges, and my parents told me, “’G,’ you’ve got to grow up now. We’ll help you, but you’ve got to gradually start learning this.”
With the necessary support system nearby, Gerald decided to take the scholarship offered by the University of Oklahoma. But his arrival in Norman was anything but happy.
“I didn’t know what it was like not to play, because I played every year,” Gerald said. “When football season is in, I’m supposed to be playing. I was on the team, but I wasn’t playing. It was just eating me alive. So I called my mother and I said, ‘look mom, I don’t know if I can do this anymore.’”
With the guidance of his mother, Gerald made it through the season. That summer, he was doing well enough in practice to be a starter once again. That’s when he would face the biggest tragedy of his life. When his parents were visiting for Father’s Day, his mother’s behavior became erratic.
“She just kept shaking her head and apparently it was brain aneurisms,” Gerald said. “Her brain was hemorrhaging. I guess it was bleeding and we didn’t know it. We thought she just had a normal headache. Well, she kept saying no, and so we said, ‘look we’re going to take you to the hospital.’ She couldn’t even stand up at that point. And to make a long story short, three weeks later she passed away.”
Without his mom, Gerald was now without the biggest guiding force in his life, and the anger he was feeling forced him to cry out to God.
“I let the anger out probably a week later,” Gerald said. “We had already had the funeral and I came home and told my dad, I said, ‘Daddy, I can’t take this anymore. I’ve just got to say what I’ve got to say. God knows how I feel, but I’ve just got to say it.’ I told Him. I was yelling. I was angry. I was hitting on walls. I could not understand why my mother had to be taken away. ‘Anything else could have happened, but why would You take my mother away?’ I said, ‘God, look. I don’t like it. I never will like it, never will understand it, but You are still ruler. You are still king, and I give you all the praise for everything that happens. I don’t know why you did it, but you have a plan for my life and for some reason you allowed this to happen. So, if you allowed it to happen, apparently I can make it through it. And you’re going to help me through it. So I leave it in your hands.’”
Since getting serious about God, Gerald has risen to the occasion as a leader in much the same way his mother was known for doing. He was elected to be a defensive captain this season as a sophomore, the first time in the history of Oklahoma football. He was also elected as the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the University of Oklahoma.
“When I have free time I do whatever I can to help others. That’s just a joy of mine, and I love doing it. I would give up football any day to do stuff like this,” Gerald said.Can God change your life?
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