Kevin Mawae: A Titan's Clash with Death
By Will Dawson
The 700 Club
Football has always been part of Kevin Mawae.
"I remember going to practice and the first day coming home to tell my mom, 'I'm going to play in the NFL one day.' But I knew back then that’s what I wanted to do."
This Tennessee Titan center sets the bar for offensive linemen in the NFL. Beginning his 14th season in the league, Kevin is a six-time pro-bowler and at one point, played in 177 consecutive games.
But before his stellar NFL career, Kevin played football at Louisiana State University along with his brother and best friend, John. The two were inseperable.
"We were so close that we shared the same clothes, and we had the same friends. There wasn’t Kevin’s drawer and John’s drawer. It was one underwear drawer. That’s how close we were," Kevin says.
After starting four years at LSU, Kevin fulfilled a promise he made as a child and in 1994, was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. Kevin’s dream of playing in the NFL had come true. He was playing the sport he loved, was happily married, and even had his first child on the way. But prior to his third NFL season, something happened that would change his life.
"I got a call from my brother Scott, who’s the oldest of the two younger ones and all he said was [he was screaming], 'He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead!' "
"I said, 'What are you talking about?' He said, 'John was killed in a car accident last night.' "
"It was the beginning of my transformation. It shocked me. It really floored me. People have rock bottoms. For me, losing my brother was rock bottom," says Kevin.
Mourning his brother’s death, Kevin began evaluating his own life.
Kevin remembers, "I was living the lifestyle of an NFL player ... spending the money, living in a house too big for my means and you know, things like that. I probably wasn’t treating my wife the way I should’ve been. But that really opened my eyes up to see that there’s so much more to life than what I was living and that life is more precious than I thought it was."
It was then he began asking questions about God.
"How big is God? Who’s this God that can take a life away and then can give a life [the whole miracle of birth]," he remembers asking. "So I really struggled with that. That’s when I began reading the Bible on my own to find answers."
Soon after, he met with a pastor from his hometown of Baton Rouge. Kevin was looking for answers.
"I finally asked him [the pastor]. I said, 'Why did He [God]take my brother?' "
The pastor said,"Kevin, I can’t answer that question. What I can tell you is you don’t lack the knowledge of who God is and who Jesus Christ is. You lack the faith in what He’s capable of doing in your life."
"And I think that’s when it really opened up, and it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I just started crying. He [pastor] said, ‘Would you like to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior?’ "
"I said, 'Yeah!' So he led me through the prayer of salvation. I walked out of that church that day a new man. I realized that God had a purpose for my brother. I realized what that was, and I realized a bigger purpose in life than just being Kevin Mawae, the football player."
Kevin says he now understands his purpose. And that’s to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"I think God has called us to use those talents to reach other people. I have the unique opportunity to go in front of a crowd of anywhere from 200 to 2,000 to 20,000 and share my faith. It’s those kinds of things I ’ve realized that I ’ve been in the NFL for ... to use that platform," he believes.
Football is a rough sport, and Kevin makes no apologies for playing hard.
"I’ve been called to play a game the way it’s made to be played, and I’ve been called to glorify God. And if I go out there and give anything less than what I’ve been giving, the only person I sell short is Him. I play for an audience of one."
Kevin says facing trials can be difficult, but he faces them today with the assurance that he’s not alone. And that his life is in God’s hands.
"I can smile and laugh during training camp because God’s placed me here. And if you have the same attitude and that same priority in life than you can have success ... maybe not in football but in every walk of life. So that’s how accepting Christ and living a godly life has changed me completely. If it was all done today, I could accept it. It’s not what I want. Just like when my brother passed away, it’s not what I want, but I accept it because that’s what God’s plan was for me. Everybody has a hole in their heart, and there’s only a Jesus-sized key that will fit in it, and that’s what happened to me. That’s the only way I can explain it."Can God change your life?
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