Chris Ward: From NFL All-Pro to Homeless to Redemption
“From NFL All-Pro to Homeless to Redemption”
When people think of NFL players they think of spoiled rich, entitled individuals with millions of dollars. From my humble beginnings to the NFL: the American dream, right? Found in a dumpster as a baby I was adopted and grew up in Dayton, Ohio. From beginnings like this, most would live with resentment and anger. I chose to not have any of this. I found out I was adopted at twelve years old and was devastated. But, the love of my family allowed me to rise above these challenges. I became an all-everything high school football player and found myself at Ohio State. I worked to become an outstanding player at Ohio State and role model. The football program used me not only to recruit other players but coaches as well.
The Daily News once reported “Bill Myles was an offensive line coach at Nebraska when he was lured to Ohio State by the legendary Woody Hayes before Ward's senior year in 1977. As part of his recruiting pitch, Hayes gave Myles a glimpse of the sculpted Patterson High School product. "Coach Hayes preened him by me when he was trying to get me to come here," Myles said. "He was a fantastic-looking guy. I didn't have anyone who looked like him at Nebraska." The 275-pound Ward, who already had earned All-Big Ten honors twice, was clocked in the 40-yard dash in a nimble 4.75 seconds. And Myles never had coached a player with such raw strength and speed. "He was just physically overpowering," said Myles, who coached tackles and tight ends for the Buckeyes through 1985. "He had very quick feet for his size. The most important step in blocking is the second step, and he would take his second step before the other guy could take his. And he'd knock people off the ball." The results often were devastating. "I have a practice film of him and it's still in my garage where he hit a guy so hard he knocked him right out of his shoe," Myles said.”
I was as Coach Myles said a “devastating “player and one of a hand full of offensive linemen who have been a Heisman nominee. A two-time Consensus All-American is unheard of and was why I was selected as an Ohio State All-Century team member and inducted into the Ohio State Hall of Fame on the first ballot. I was the best of the best and set the standard for all offensive linemen who followed. I was even nominated and promoted as a candidate for the Heisman; this was unheard of in modern football circles.
Once done at the Ohio State University I was selected as the fourth overall pick in the 1978 draft as the first pick of the New York Jets. He went on to play eight years in the NFL.
Once out of professional football I tried my hand at several business ventures and other opportunities. After my marriage dissolved more than thirty years ago I had a spiritual awakening. After seeing the legendary preacher Jimmy Swaggart on TV, I began to get my spiritual lie in order. I then migrated to Los Angeles, and eventually became an ordained minister where I work with inner-city youth and deliver the message of redemption.
My journey to Los Angeles was not an easy one. After the passing of my adoptive parents, I felt disconnected and decided I needed a change. I packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles. I made the move on blind faith, no contacts, and no job prospects and with no place to stay. I just put my nose to the grindstone like I had in every other element of my life and moved forward. While playing in the NFL and living like the privileged 1% I had a different perspective of the world. Now, humbled I was focused on making a difference in the lives of others both on the spiritual front and helping individuals and families protect their financial futures.
My journey through my wilderness lasted for nearly three and a half years. But, once I began to minister others my life started to shift in an upward ascent.
I was experiencing extreme back pain and went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with a herniated disk in my back and the doctor told me that I may lose the use of lower limbs and would not be able to walk within six months. While I sat in the examination room with the doctor I immediately began to pray. That was twenty years ago and I am still active and mobile, that spiritual foundation and my determination to not let anything stop me has prevailed. I am now happily remarried, I continue to preach and work with youth and families in need and has built a very successful financial services business. Mine is a story of faith, redemption, and perseverance. Visit me online at www.ChrisWardFootball.com