Gang life to a man of Christ for Avant
The Eagles’ receiver garners respect after turning life around.
PHILADELPHIA — Jason Avant raises his hands to the sky after every reception in celebration for much more than catching a ball.
Playing football for the Philadelphia Eagles doesn’t define Avant. After everything he’s endured, the 29-year-old wide receiver is not your ordinary professional athlete.
Avant was 12 when he started selling drugs. He went to elementary school drunk and high. As a teenager, he belonged to one of Chicago’s notorious gangs called the “Gangsters Disciples.”
Dodging bullets and running from the police were common for him.
Yet somehow Avant escaped that life and avoided ending up dead or in jail like some of his friends. Now he’s one of the most respected players in the NFL.
“When I lift my hands up, it’s me saying ‘Lord, I know where I could be and I thank you for where I am,’” Avant recalled last week. “There were times when I was growing up when I didn’t have enough to scrounge up a quarter to get an ICEE. I remember the times our house was shot up. I remember when I didn’t have any avenues, when I sold drugs. So I lift my hands up and thank the Lord for all He has done for me.”
Sports and prayer helped Avant stay free from harm. Avant was a talented basketball player, but he eventually choose football and the University of Michigan.
When Avant got to Ann Arbor, his roommate, running back Alijah Bradley, was a pastor’s son. Avant and Bradley were typical college freshmen on a big campus, living it up and having fun.
But when Bradley got hurt during the spring before sophomore year, he decided he needed to go to church. Avant went with him. For two months, they would go each week.
On May 4, 2003, Avant’s life changed forever. He was listening to Pastor Lovell Cannon’s sermon at True Worship Church in Detroit when images from his life started flashing in his mind.
Avant stopped drinking, partying, and even waited to get married before having sex again. Avant began studying the Bible as if it were his playbook.
Nowadays, the wide receiver walks around the locker room singing gospel music and always carries the Bible.
“God has blessed me with so much,” he said.