Sept. 28, 2006
By Craig Chval
At 6-4, 241 pounds, Devon McDonald had a profound impact on the football field. The native of Jamaica, by way of Paterson, NJ, was the most outstanding defensive player in the final game he ever played for Notre Dame, a 28-3 victory over Texas A&M in the 1993 Cotton Bowl.
Today, McDonald is having an even greater impact on thousands of young people as a part of Sports World Inc., an organization whose mission is, "To send Professional Athletes to share personal life experiences with students, helping them to recognize the consequences of their choices while challenging them with the message of hope."
Notwithstanding his stellar career at Notre Dame and four seasons in the NFL, there was a time in McDonald's life when he was far from happy about the consequences flowing from the choices he was making.
Eventually McDonald experienced "an epiphany," as he describes it. "It was clear that I didn't want to live any more and I knew I was about to make a life-changing decision," he relates. "Sure, I had made the NFL, but I had nothing, because I found out that money didn't buy me what I needed.
"It was at that time that I received Christ and He became a reality in my life," says McDonald. "I invited Him to come into my heart, and that began my transformation."
As his faith grew, McDonald was confronted with questions about how he would live his life.
"Once I decided to give my life to Christ, I had to figure out, `What am I going to do?'" he recalls. "I had to figure out, `Am I going to do more than make money?'"
Shortly after he began to pray about the decisions he faced, McDonald received a telephone call from Steve Grant, a friend and former West Virginia football player who had become involved with Sports World. McDonald accepted Grant's invitation to join Sports World.
Now an ordained minister, McDonald is convinced that his own struggles allow him to be effective with the young people he encounters.
"First of all, it's my relationship with Christ," McDonald explains. "Beyond that, I believe what I'm saying, and people can sense that, especially young people.
"I know what it feels like to be hopeless," he says.
McDonald shares his encounter with a young woman who showed him cuts on her arms, cuts she had made in an attempt to kill herself because somebody told her she was fat and ugly. After hearing McDonald's message, the woman described to him a newfound sense of hope.
"Words are powerful," McDonald observes. "If you can speak a word of hope into a hungry soul, you can revive it."
McDonald lives with his wife, Shereasher, and daughters Jazzmine (11) and Rachel (6) near the Sports World headquarters in Indianapolis. He encourages anyone interested in supporting Sports World or bringing a Sports World representative to their local to school to visit the organization's website at www.sportsworld.org.