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Jimmy Graham, from U of Miami to N.O. Saints: the Power of the Church on an Abused and Neglected Teen

Teresa Neumann : May 5, 2010 : Monique Walker - The Boston Globe

"Graham gained a foundation through his weekly visits to the church. He discovered fellowship, a pastor who would become his high school basketball coach, a guardian who gave him stability in an unstable life, and a congregation joyful with encouragement."

Jimmy GrahamIn the 3rd round of this year's NFL Draft, a dream, and perseverance came to fruition for Jimmy Graham, who was a wide receiver/tight end, for the University of Miami.

An article on NewOrleansProFootball.com described it this way… "The Saints wrapped up Friday night with towering converted hoops player Jimmy Graham from the University of Miami (Florida). Graham, a hard-knocks youth from Goldsboro, N.C., was a four-year basketball player for the Hurricanes at forward, winning team Outstanding Defender honors. He played high school football defensive end and receiver and when he exhausted his basketball eligibility, head football coach Randy Shannon recruited him to play tight end. Showed courage with an ambitious double major and a great story."

Jimmy Graham does have a great story, here's a little piece of it…

Abundant Life Church is the place where the University of Miami's tight end, Jimmy Graham—a poor teenager basically raising himself at the time—found food, shelter, hope, and a new home.

As reported in The Boston Globe, "Graham gained a foundation through his weekly visits to the church. He discovered fellowship, a pastor who would become his high school basketball coach, a guardian who gave him stability in an unstable life, and a congregation joyful with encouragement."

"It was like everybody there believed in me,'' Graham said. "My whole life, I always felt different and out of place, and I finally felt like people cared about me and people wanted me to succeed. They told me I was too smart and too talented. It was like that entire church believed in me. They used to tell me every day, 'You're going to do great things in this community and in this world,' and that support meant everything.''

Carlos Peralta, the pastor of Abundant Life, was quoted as saying the first time he interacted with Graham it was like a "neon sign hovered above his head asking for help."

"He was abandoned and a very angry young man, as you can imagine,'' said Peralta.

According to the report, it was church member Becky Vinson, a Gulf War veteran, single mom and nursing student, who volunteered to become Graham's legal guardian before his sophomore year of high school, despite her own struggle to pay bills.

"Yet even with the financial struggles," noted reporter Monique Walker, "Vinson provided support that made him feel like he was living a life of riches."

If you'd like to look back at Jimmy's incredibly uplifting [pre-NFL draft] story in its entirety, including how Graham forgave his mother and the road that led him to play football at the University of Miami, just click on the link provided.



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