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Gerald McCoy

Published on December 30, 2013

by FCA

Gerald McCoy
Hometown: Oklahoma City
Born: Feb. 25, 1988
Height/Weight: 6-4/300 lbs.
Wife - Ebony
Children - Nevaeh, Marcellus College: Oklahoma
Drafted: Third overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2010.
• NFL Pro Bowl (2012)
• NCAA First-Team All-American (2008, 2009)
• All-Big 12 First Team (2008, 2009)

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper…” – Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)

Growing up in Oklahoma City, or “the 405,” as I’ve always called it, I was in church 17 days a week, 100 hours a day. My mom was the choir director, my dad played the drums, and both taught Sunday school. That was my childhood.

Christ was always in me, but early on my dad always told me, “G, when you get older, you’re going to have to make a decision. Do you really want to follow Christ? Is this the life you want to live?” I chose Him back then and, despite trials along the way, have followed Him ever since.

It’s ironic looking back now, but baseball was actually my favorite sport as a kid. I didn’t even like football at first. When I was about eight, a coach invited me to come to football practice. I went and still didn’t have much fun, but my dad convinced me to keep going by saying, “Keep playing a couple more years and see if you like it.” Lo and behold, by the end of the year I began to really enjoy it and then kept playing each year. The rest, as they say, is history.

In seventh grade, I met a pretty little girl named Ebony, a transfer into our middle school. We had a couple of classes together and became really good friends. She left after one year, but we met back up in high school, became close again, and eventually started dating. That led to some mistakes, and we ended up getting pregnant. My daughter, Nevaeh, who is seven now, is a blessing to us, but it was tough to raise a child while we were so young. Fortunately, we had a lot of support along the way and our shared faith strengthened us as we made it work. Nevaeh and her brother, Marcellus, are our pride and joy.

A couple years after Nevaeh was born, while I was playing football for the University of Oklahoma in 2007, we faced another challenge when my mom passed away. She was my best friend. Everything in my life involved my mom, so when she was gone I had to find something to fill that emotional void. I felt God telling me, “I allowed her to be taken and now she lives with Me, so I’ll fill that void.” Knowing God was there for me kept me going during that very difficult time.

I performed well enough for the Sooners to be drafted into the NFL, fulfilling my dream of playing football professionally. During both of my first two seasons, however, I got injured, leading to a sustained “down” feeling because it was the first time I had ever been without football. What I didn’t realize was how much the game was keeping me from having a closer relationship with God. I had so much more room to grow. Football had become who I was instead of simply something I did. I realized my relationship with God was not what it needed to be, and I had to make a decision if that was going to change. From that point on, it's been God and me, for real.

As professional athletes, we have a huge platform to change the world. But it’s not about the platform; it’s what you do with it. I believe God put me here to make a difference, to be a vessel, and to be that change to reach my teammates, community and the world. In order to do that I know I have to be around guys who have the same mindset as me. We have a good core group of guys here in our weekly Bible study, and we make sure to keep each other accountable.

I want people to see something different about me. I want them to see the power of God through the way I compete and carry myself on the field. The Bible says that in everything you do, do it wholeheartedly unto the Lord and not unto human masters (Colossians 3:23). So, if I’m playing to please God and use the talent He’s given me, nobody should ever outwork me.

Early in my career, football was my identity, my tag, my success. But I realize now that one day it will fade. When I’m done playing and my time is up on this earth, I don’t want my tombstone to have the NFL shield on it. Instead, I want people to remember me by the way I lived my life and how I pursued people with love.

Originally Published: January 2014

Photos courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers