It’s easy for us, as human beings, to recognize faults in other people. When those other people are famous and those faults are blatent, it makes it that much easier. On the flip side, it’s hard for us as humans, sometimes, to see the good in other people. Especially those who seem to have it all.
In light of the recent Tiger Woods events, I think it is important to highlight some of the athletes in our major sports who really are good people. These athletes are good Christian citizens, family men, and all around good guys.
NHL; Jerome Iginla, Calgary Flames: We all know about Iginla’s accomplishments on the ice. Off the ice however you couldn’t find a nicer guy. Former General Manager of the Calgary Flames Craig Button describes Iginla as being grounded. “He’s an even better person than he is a player, and we all know what a great player he is,” says Button. He’s married to his childhood sweatheart Kara and they have three children. They had been dating since they were in the eighth grade. Jarome loves to golf and is involved in the annual Celebrity Charity Golf Tournament hosted by the Flames organization. He operates the Jarome Iginla Hockey School in Calgary with all proceeds going to the Diabetes Research Association. He donates $2,000 for every goal that he scores to Kidsport. Here’s a story that tells you the kind of character that Iginla has. At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Jarome found himself talking with four Calgarians who were sleeping in their car while attending the event. Jarome excused himself and went and booked them accommodations at the same hotel that he was staying at with his family at his own expense. The NHL recognized his humanitarian contributions by awarding him the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2004. In 2009 he received the Mark Messier Leadership Award recognizing players for leadership in their sport and society. Jarome Iginla. Captain,husband, father, and a leader in his community. A career and life that he can be proud of. Something to aspire to. – Frank Rekas, The Rat Trick
NBA; Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns:
When it comes to being an all-in-all good family guy I think that Grant Hill is the gold standard for the NBA. Here is a guy that went to Duke, and started his career with the Detroit Pistons as one of the best players in the game. He lost many good seasons to various ankle injuries only to see him rejuvenated in his latest stop with the Phoenix Suns. Despite all of his injuries Grant persevered and refused to quit the game he loved. Grant has been married to his wife Tamia since 1999 and have two children. Tamia was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003 but has since reported that her symptoms are in remission. Grant is also a two time winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award. – Kris Willis, Soaring Down South
NFL; Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals:
Kurt Warner is the epitome of a good Christian citizen. After being released from the Green Bay Packers in 1994, it could have been assumed that Warner’s football career was over. But Kurt and his wife Brenda kept their faith in God, and in 2000, Warner won his only Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams. The first thing Warner said after the game: “Well, first things first, I’ve got to thank my Lord and Savior up above — thank you, Jesus!” Warner is the father of 5 kids, and the stepfather of two more. Along with his wife Brenda, Warner runs the “First Thing’s First” organization, which they use to share their blessings with other people. Warner won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2008. – Ben Montedonico, Stock Car Spin
NASCAR; Jeff Gordon, Driver #24:
Jeff Gordon is known for his 4 championships and whiny attitude on the track. But one thing many people may not know about Gordon is his journey off the track. Gordon divorced his first wife, Brooke, in 2002. But a few years ago, Gordon welcomed God into his life and says he wishes he did so sooner. Since welcoming God into his life, Gordon has married his new wife Ingrid, and welcomed daughter Ella into the world. The Gordons are expecting a second child this fall. How much does Gordon love his family? There are rumors that Gordon is going to cut his spectacular career short within the next couple of years so he can spend more time with them and watch his kids grow up. Gordon spends most of his off-track time with his family, and spends the rest running the Jeff Gordon Foundation, which he uses to help support children facing adversity. – Ben Montedonico, Stock Car Spin
MLB; Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals:
Albert Pujols is already making a bid to be one of the all-time greats on the field. His success on the field is well documented. He hits for average. He hits for power. He can field. Did I say he can hit? The best player in the game today is also humble. Pujols doesn’t boast or brag, he just goes about his business day in and day out. In this dark age for baseball, he is a burst of light for the game. Pujols has been given the responsibility to save the game from the steroid era. He needs to rewrite the record books and erase our memories of the embarrassment over the last decade. Through all the accusations, he has remained strong, pointing to his faith in God and his family as all the strength he needs. He combined those pillars in his life to create the Pujols Family Foundation
. The foundation is run by Albert and his wife, Deidre, and focuses on using their faith to help others. The Pujols Family Foundation draws on Faith, Family, and others to accomplish its goals. Faith in God. Family is special. The Pujols’ have a daughter with Down Syndrome, so they hope to help other families in the same situation. They consider it a blessing. And helping others. The Pujols’ want to make a difference in many lives, using Albert’s baseball stature for good. The foundation is run by the Pujols’ along with some help. But Albert is the founder and chairman and extremely involved. His wife is the president. This isn’t about signing checks. That would be too easy. It’s about actually helping others. More players should follow Albert’s lead. He is great on the field and off it. He finds balance, so others can to. When he’s not working with the foundation or playing, he is being a model family man. Albert shared some special moments with his son, A.J. at Spring Training in the past week.
He gave his son some pointers in the batting cage and had some laughs too. Not all athletes are there for their children, but Albert has made it a priority. – Ryne Gery, Redbird Rants
“What did you gain from doing the things you were ashamed of? The result of those things is death. But now you have been set free from sin and are the slaves of God. Your gain is a life fully dedicated to him, and the result is eternal life. For sin pays its wage – death; but God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Chirst Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6: 21-23