God’s Grace in My Life

 God’s Grace in My Life

By:  Aderious Simmons

The arrival of one of the most horrific storms in American history “Hurricane Katrina” marked a great changing point in my life. In my senior year in high school (2005) my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana was shaken with damage due to the effects and aftermath of Katrina. At the age of 18 I had suddenly become homeless. The day before the storm reached land I was given my first heads up about the storm from a female friend from high school (John Ehret, located on the west bank of New Orleans) who later would be my girlfriend. After quickly packing and preparing to leave, my family and I headed to Mississippi where I remained against my will for several months. In the final quarter of the year (2005) I finally returned home and began seeking what to do with my life. After working a job and heading into another I remembered being given a small bible, which was based on the New Testament. The thought I had about the book was to at least read a chapter every day, preferably during my lunch break.

My occupation at the time was in the field of construction, a carpenter which was greatly needed in New Orleans at the time. As the year passed and 2007 was here on the morning of the holiday of Thanksgiving I went to play football with some friends. We played football several times after but the first time is when I noticed I had a passion within for the sport. The excitement and the opportunity, the running and everything involved were like nothing I had ever encountered. Not long after that day, I’d received some mail from the University of Miami, which in my heart I know was a sign from God. About a week later I was ready to ride to Miami on a thirteen-hour drive, straight with a few bags of sun chips, some gallons of Hawaiian punch (orange ocean) and a single word from God, “Go.” I left one morning at about four thirty; the drive was a nice experience. I saw a lot of different things such as creative cars, area’s and people as well. When I arrived on campus it was about seven so it was too late to search for anything that night and the following night I slept in my car.

The following day was a bright one; the sun was shining with a few showers here and there.   At one of the shuttle stops I met a real down to earth female who said she was playing on the basketball team the lady canes. We talked for about thirty minutes and she even offered to let me stay with her if her roommate didn’t mind. Shortly after she left a guy pulls up in a gray for F-150, he asked what team I was with, I replied, “football” he told me he would bring me to the football offices, which he did. I told him thanks and that my name was Derious, he was like “no problem, I’m T. Good (Taveras Gooden BAL, Ravens)” I went to the office and spoke with the first available coach, a special teams coach. He told me the deal from a business perspective, which was negative on my behalf, and I thanked him and left. When I walked out of the special team coaches’ office I was stopped by another guy named coached JC (“cross” I think). He and another guy name David began to explain to me that there are routes that could be taken to reach the field. After a few days in Miami, I headed home to start training and get ready to enter a junior college. When I got back from another thirteen-hour drive, the first thought and action was to thank God and then find a place to start grinding. I went to my high school to speak with the football coaches about some workouts I should do. During one of the days at the gym I happened to be there at the same time as Thaddeus Washington who was then a linebacker for the Buffalo Bills. He gave me a few tips as to what was important in the NFL, so I took the advice he gave me and applied it immediately.

After the first half of summer it was time to head back to Mississippi, to a town known as Senatobia.  It was there that I would arrive to Northwest Community College but only to be told once again that I could not play due to it being a scholarship school and having an out-of-state player limit. The coaches there understood my situation and the head coach said he wanted to keep me around for a possible spot next season. The defensive line and strength and conditioning coach Danny Ray Cole was another great inspiration and supporter who helped me to workout with the players and learn about football. Reverend Tyrome Catchums who was a former defensive tackle for the school, was also another man of God who did all he could to help me along my journey. I spent the summer and fall semester with the team as a water boy and gained all the knowledge that I could. Due to complications the head coach was fired and most of the players that remained followed a previous coach from NWCC to the state of Iowa to a NAIA school. It was there I served my spring of 2008 till in the group of “D-line.” The head coach said that he had plans of making me an all pro defensive tackle at 350 pounds but in three years, I left.

In the summer of 2008 I returned home to New Orleans and began hanging with George Batiste who had just finished training camp with the Kansas City chiefs. Much like Thaddeus, George told me helpful things to do for football and things about football. When the fall came around later that year I then flew to Pasadena to play at Pasadena City College. I arrived the day before the scrimmage game and participated in it until my entire body locked up with cramps. The idea to head to Pasadena came from one of the guys I met at the University of Miami, David Silveria. It was in Pasadena I was moved to play offensive tackle due to the lack of offensive lineman in the program, six to be exact. There I started every game at right tackle until the last regular season game where I played left tackle. I was given a scholarship offer from the University of Arizona; the call came from Coach David Nickel a wide receiver coach for the wildcats at the time. I didn’t know what to say other than thank you so I guess eventually they pulled the offer. After the season the head coach at the time, Kenny G. Lawler was released for being accused of letting a charged sex offender on the football team, the same guy that was let into the school.

By the beginning of the next spring (2009) I transferred to El Camino College and began trying to find my place in another new situation. During this year my life began to change even more for the better. While training through the spring and summer and beginning the fall, I had the pleasure of meeting a Mr. & Mrs. Pete Peterson who introduced me to their church home Glory Christian Fellowship International (GCFI). During this time my little green New Testament bible was accompanied with the gift of a King James Version Bible. While living in California I learned a great deal of things about life and things I didn’t know that were happening right before my eyes. The main attention grabber was the evilness in the music industry, particularly rap. I watch videos on YouTube of a “Dr. G. Craige Lewis” who then showed me the truth behind hip-hop, and the secretive motives of the media/Hollywood. Another activity I looked forward to was going to shortcut ministry on Tuesday nights, every Tuesday night. It was created and ran by Don Hawley, who everyone called uncle Don. Uncle Don was and is one of the best people God has allowed me meet. Most of the football team looked forward to going to church Tuesday night as well. After finishing the fall of 2009 I received a scholarship to Arizona State University.

During the spring of 2010, I remained in Los Angeles self-training and taking classes to get my AA degree. I didn’t have money for books so I didn’t pass the only class I had that required a book, which resulted in a major problem. For about four months during the spring/summer I felt trapped and depressed not knowing how I would get to ASU, if I would still have my scholarship, or what I would do about this class I’d just failed and needed to pass. During this stressful time I did only what I could, I kept training, living positive and most importantly, going to Church (GCFI). As time passed, I had already begun to miss the second and final part of the summer at ASU and still had no way of getting there. I started to think that I would lose my scholarship and didn’t know what would happen. Then it was like something or someone told me to start getting ready, confused but desperate I started packing my things while cleaning up, that day I happen to find some unopened mail of mine that I had no idea was even in the room where I slept. In the mail was a check for over a thousand dollars. “Thank You Lord” was what I started yelling even though my four roommates in our two-bedroom apartment could have been home or walking in. God had given me my way out L.A. and into Arizona.

When I arrived I had nowhere to live but there was a guy here named “tank” (Jonathan English) that picked me up from the airport and help find me a place to live. Tank is also from New Orleans but was leaving ASU due to some issues with the coaching staff. Two days after I arrived tank brought me to his church, Victory Community Church that I decided to join several services later. At VCC, much like GCFI in Los Angeles I started to grow more in God and learn more about him. While I was reading different scriptures every day in Arizona, even carrying my Bible around like it was the only thing I had I still didn’t know how I was going to get cleared to play at ASU and start school. The funny part is I always knew I would but I remained calm while other people around were nervous.  In order to be accepted for the fall semester I needed to pass the class that I failed and complete it before the fall.

I joined this teacher’s class who would later tell me that she was pregnant and would be going into labor soon. I needed my final grade by a deadline but still needed to complete an entire course of work and have it graded and returned. Needless to say, she went into labor right before the time of the deadline. After the fall started and it seemed like my time at ASU was definitely a wrap, I got cleared and accepted during week one of the 2010 football season.

     

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