Friday, March 28, 2014

Maurice Clarett: Sports Star, Cellmate, & Saint

Last weekend the church that I attend had asked Maurice Clarett to speak. In the morning service an interview was conducted by the pastor of the church. Sunday evening Mr. Clarett spoke for about an hour telling his story. What follows is a bit of what I captured of the interview and his talk.

This is a story of grace, mercy, reality, and truth. It is an account of a young man from the ‘hood, who made good on the football field, but never really fully understood.

Mr. Maurice (Reese) Clarett was the product of his environment. Growing up he wanted to prove himself to the guys in his inner city Youngstown, Ohio neighborhood. In doing so, within one three month period of time he got picked up by police three times and was headed to juvenile detention, but for the intervention of an “angel,” a man who took him under his wing convincing the judge to allow Mr. Clarett to spend the summer being mentoring him in lieu of time in the juvenile detention center. This would be Mr. Clarett’s first taste of grace (which is an instance where you don’t get what you deserve; instead you get what you need).

Truth is that in the cities of America – especially among the poor minorities – gangs and a variety of thugs substitute for missing fathers in the lives of young men. These lowlifes companions teach the young men the ways of their evil world. The young men emulate these lousy “role models” to the chagrin and dismay of their mothers and grandmothers.

Star Athlete
In Mr. Clarett’s case he was “saved” by a couple of adult men who saw potential in him and stepped up and encouraged him to pursue his athletic talents. They took him under their wings and taught him discipline and raised his expectations. Therefore Mr. Clarett became very successful throughout his high school career. He and his team under his leadership excelled.


He ended up going to Ohio State University, where as a freshman he led his team to a national championship in 2002. He even scored the winning TD in the BCS national championship. Accolades of all kinds came his way. He had a phenomenal freshmen season. He was a superstar, the next LeBron James. However, it didn’t take too long before his world was shattered.

Shackled  

Unfortunately others wanted a piece of the Clarett action and glorly. The good ‘ole boys from the Youngstown ‘hood came back into his life, and he lost his focus, his concentration. Drugs, alcohol, girls, he was basking is his celebrity and glory. He got suckered into the kind of lifestyle that leads one astray. He had several run-ins with the law. He got tossed off the football team, lost his scholarship, left school his sophomore year.

Depression led him deeper into the lifestyle that sidetracked his brilliant, promising football career. He tried to escape by going to the West Coast. But he got mixed up with an even more intense and care-free party crowd than the one he fellowshipped with in Ohio.

He attempted to get into professional football after he was drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos. He knew he was not in shape to be a professional football player after wasting himself in Ohio and California. But he went to the Broncos training camp. He said he was a poor teammate, a chronic complainer and not as dedicated to the game as he should have been. He was released. Another failure he felt.

He returned to Ohio but soon got reconnected to the Youngstown boys from the ‘hood and returned to his immature and drug dulling depression pattern. He didn’t want to face reality.

It wasn’t until he was incarcerated in the penitentiary that he began to see the light, thanks to a warden who advised him to put himself on the right track. Mr. Clarett heeded the warden and the example and mentoring of very helpful lifer inmate, who shared the things of God with him.

Saint

When he got out of prison he was better prepared to face reality. He even played professional football again in Omaha, Nebraska, where under the direction and instruction of a pastor he said that he eventually gave his life to God as a Christ-follower in 2012.

Mr. Clarett now speaks to groups about his restored life and he helps young men to avoid taking the wrong path that he chose to take. At 30 years of age he plans to return to school to complete his degree. He wants to pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor in the field of geriatric services. While in prison he received a lot of help and encouraging letters from seniors who gave so much of themselves to him while he served almost 4 years of a 7-year sentence. Mr. Clarett seems to have made some better decisions in his “old age” of 30!

Lessons Learned

What can be learned from this young man’s journey from football star to cellmate to saint?

·        God is a gracious God, a God of second and third chances, etc. He is a merciful God. Recognize that you are a sinner and have missed the mark and accept His provision, Jesus, to completely redeem your life.


·        Be careful in choosing your friends.


·        As long as you stay focused on purposeful pursuits you are not likely to fall into temptations that will foil your plans and ruin your life.
 

·        Use your time, talent and treasure wisely.

 
You can see or hear the interview for yourself by going here.

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