NFL wide receiver Jason Avant is known for his sure hands and clutch plays. In his eight seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, he’s also emerged as a leader, a role model and someone who keeps things in perspective.
“The game of football, I love to play, but in the grand scheme of life, it’s this big,” laughed Jason.
Jason’s outlook stems from a life of adversity. As a young boy he lived with his grandmother in the projects of Southside Chicago. Most of the relatives that lived with them were gang bangers. Drug deal and drive by shootings were just a part of life.
“I understood what it was like to come into the house with $1000 dollars for making drug deals because I was selling drugs in the 6th grade.”
Jason’s grandmother took him to church and prayed for him constantly, hoping he would find a way out.
“I was young, and I was her second chance on life,” Jason explained. “Her children didn’t turn out the way she wanted them to, so her prayers for me, ‘Lord, let him be different. Lord, let his life be one that will serve You. Let him escape these streets. Let him do Your will.”
A battle raged in Jason’s mind between God’s truth, and the reality of life.
“Because of that environment it made me bitter and callous toward God. Even though my grandmother had something that I knew I wanted, but I still couldn’t see me serving Him when some people in the world could have affluence and others had the bottom of the barrel. I couldn’t understand that.”
Even then, Jason says his grandmother’s words were sinking in.
Jason told reporter Tim Branson, “I tell you the truth, I was the worst gang member slash drug dealer because my grandmother gave me too much truth for me to be comfortable in that environment. And I…”
Tim responded, “You couldn’t ignore it.”
Jason said, “I couldn’t ignore it.”
In the midst of the chaos, it became clear that Jason was a gifted athlete. On the playgrounds of Chicago he decided basketball would be his ticket out. But when his grandmother moved them to a new neighborhood with a new school, he found his passion… in football.
“In one year of playing receiver I was the number one player in the state of Illinois. And it was like a dream come true.”
Jason became an All-American, and signed with the University of Michigan. He thought college would get him away from all his grandmother’s talk about God and Jesus.
“I get to the University of Michigan and I get to room with the pastor’s son,” laughed Jason.
Tim smiled, “Wherever you go man!”
Jason agreed, “Wherever I go. Right? Listen! Here I am again with these religious, crazy people!” exclaimed Jason.
Tim poked back, “It hadn’t sunk in had it?”
Jason admitted, “It still hadn’t sunk in.”
But it soon would. When Jason first came to Michigan he expected to be a star. After all, he was a top recruit. Instead he found himself on the bench. . . and stewing.
“I’m pouting on the bench. I’m so mad because I’m not playing. I’m not dressed.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: The 700 Club
Shannon Woodland & Tim Branson