Strong in mind, strong in body and strong in spirit; those are words that many would use to describe Tim Tebow. One of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of college football, he won two BCS National Championships playing for the University of Florida Gators. He became the first sophomore in NCAA history to win the Heisman Trophy and became a first round NFL draft pick for the Denver Broncos. His success as an athlete alone would have been enough to motivate legions of fans to rally behind him, but what sets Tim Tebow apart from other sports icons is his character on and off the field and how he represents his Christian faith on the huge platform God has given him. Two recent media releases give a glimpse into the life of Tebow and his journey to becoming the successful athlete and Christian man he is today.
His biography, Through My Eyes, which was released earlier this year, is an excellent read. Tebow writes in a warm, conversational style starting each chapter with an inspirational Bible verse. In it he shares the circumstances surrounding his birth in the Philippines, homeschooling, being raised on a farm, and the values instilled by his parents that helped him rise to become the athlete he is today.
In 1986, his parents were missionaries in a remote village in the Philippines when his mother became pregnant with him, their fifth child. From the start, it was a difficult pregnancy. “An abortion is the only way to save your life,” the doctor told her then. Despite this News, his mom had an unexpected peace, God’s peace, that sustained her though the pain, bleeding and uncertainty of the next eight months of her pregnancy. They named him Timothy, which means, “honoring God.”
Little did they know then that the circumstances surrounding his birth would be thrust into the national spotlight one day. In 2010, a commercial by Focus on the Family during the Super Bowl sparked much debate in the media and gave a platform to the pro-life movement. Despite the controversy, the ad proved to be sensitive and well done. Instead of creating division, it showed the sanctity of life by depicting the loving relationship between mother and son.
One of the best parts of Tebow’s book is the character lessons and mantras that provided for his firm foundation. Given the competitive nature of Tim and his two older brothers and the athletic success they began to achieve, their parents instilled a rule based on Proverbs 27:2: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” They were not permitted to brag unless someone asked them first. If someone ever complimented their character to their mom or dad, they would receive a dollar. These rules helped them focus on their character and humility instead of their outward successes.
At a young age, Tebow departed from the common attitude most kids had on “fitting in.” “What’s the point of being ‘normal,.” he wrote, “That sounds average to me, and I never felt like I was created to be average.”
One of the best gems of the book was a mantra he adopted as he began his workouts as a kid to become stronger and better: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Tebow was always looking for that edge that would help him succeed. He knew working harder than anyone else would win him those results. His competitive nature, strong work ethic he developed when maintaining the farm, and his Christian grounding all served to catapult him to future success and help him lead both his high school and college teams to victory. One of the customs that set Tebow apart in college was the Bible verses he would wear on his eye black during games. When he changed the verse to John 3:16 for the National Championship game, it was reported that 94 million people searched for John 3:16 on Google during and immediately following that game. Outside the field, Tebow was a humanitarian as well. He traveled back to the Philippines to help with the Life there, and when he returned home he created the Tim Tebow Foundation to “bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”
Released last month on DVD, the documentary Tim Tebow: Everything in Between follows him as he ends his career at the University of Florida and prepares for the next phase in his life: the NFL draft. Although critics did not expect him to be drafted in the first several rounds, Tebow was undaunted and trained hard to impress the pros. Cameras followed him through hard core workout sessions and training drills as he worked to improve his throw, change his delivery and develop peak form. The film also depicted interactions with his fans, his trip to Washington D.C. to take part in the National Day of Prayer, and his spending time with terminally ill children at a hospital – something Tebow did routinely when he was at UF. The best part of the movie is draft day. Surrounded by his friends and family, Tebow eagerly awaits the outcome to his future. When Denver calls one cannot help but be excited for him. The film’s ending, however, left you wanting more. As they are about to announce the Denver Broncos 25th draft pick on the television, the film abruptly ends before stating his name. It would have been more satisfying to see the dream he had as a six year-old boy culminate with him dressed in the Denver uniform. In defense of the ending, the filmmaker stated it symbolized that Tebow’s future has yet to be written. Although it doesn’t delve into a more personal depiction of Tebow’s life, fans will, nonetheless, enjoy catching a short glimpse of their favorite football hero in his daily pursuit of achieving his NFL dream. No doubt many will be watching number 15 with great anticipation – to shine His light on and off the football field and to press on and finish strong.
Lisette Frevola can be reached at [email protected]