Ex-NFL player: Be the best you can be

Pradyot Sharma

Staff Writer

The Troy University Athletics Department hosted former National Football League (NFL) player and motivational speaker Chris “Shep” Shepherd at the Trojan Arena on Monday night, who encouraged students to be the best you can be.

While the event was mainly for athletes, all interested students were invited to attend.

Shepherd’s speech focused on his story and how his faith in God changed his life.

Shepherd shared how his faith helped him to overcome a traumatic childhood when he was involved with gangs and he even came close to committing suicide at the age of 14. He described how he changed from being a gangster who hated everyone to someone who started living with his faith in something bigger with a purpose in life.

“People knew I was changed because they could see that change,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd told students that a changed life requires a change in attitude, a change in perception and, most importantly, the will to work toward what you want to achieve.

“You need to change how you look at things,” he said.

Shepherd shared the traumatic experience of having been sexually abused by an older woman at age 10 and said she tried to imprint on his mind that he was worthless. Such things, according to Shepherd, do not determine success, which is something people need to choose.

“We are not born winners and losers; we were born choosers, no matter what anyone tells you,” Shepherd said.

He encouraged students to accept help, no matter what sphere of life it comes from.

“When help comes, let it come,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd ended by telling students to never quit and to keep working toward being the best version of themselves.

“Lean into life, (and) stay in the game,” he said.

Cameron Rice, a senior social science major from Huntsville and a track and field athlete, described how he approached the athletics department after he learned of Shepherd.

“I heard a lot about him and what he has been doing for people across the globe, and I had a few people recommend him to me,” Rice said.

According to his website, Shepherd is a nationally recognized sports chaplain and a character/life coach and has had speaking engagements at multiple universities.

“I just wanted to inspire these athletes to be the best version of themselves, and I want people (to leave) tonight and say that because of this guy (Shepherd), I want to better my life, improve my life and be the best version of me,” Rice said.

After the event, students said they were inspired by Shepherd’s story and found takeaways from his talk.

Zachary Brannon, a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Huntsville and a football player, said that he was touched by how deeply Shepherd described his personal experience and that it provided hope to athletes.

“What stood out to me was when he said that he would rather come up lonely than go downslope with a group of friends,” Brannon said. “He really just gave me the motivation to push forward.”

“Honestly, what brought me to come (to the event) was my (leadership) scholarship (because it fulfilled a seminar requirement), but I had a personal interest as well to come,” said Alex Castanza, a junior biology education major from Montgomery.

Castanza was inspired by Shepherd’s ending challenge to students to be the best they can be.

“At the end, what he said was really good … what he ended with, he is basically saying, ‘push  yourself to be the best you can be,’ and that right there, whether you are an athlete or not, applies to anything in life,” Castanza said.

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