Why LaDainian Tomlinson made it to the Hall Of Fame

Written by Miles McPherson

The crowd began to roar as he approached the podium. Deafening chants of “LT! LT! LT!” began to ring out from the fans at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, OH. On Saturday, August 5th 2017, LaDainian Tomlinson—one of football’s greatest players ever—was given the highest honor that football has to offer: enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and there’s no one more deserving.

After thanking the screaming fans, the long-time Chargers running back said, “…at the same time you inspire me (with your cheers), I hope I inspired you with the passion I play with.” Take it from me—as a former Charger and a San Diego native myself—I saw first hand how his drive and effort defined and motivated our community for 9 years.

“To play in the NFL is an honor, a privilege—not a right,” he said. And boy, did he play like it was an honor! LaDainian was as dominant a player as the NFL has ever seen. He’d eat defenses up, like he did against the Broncos in week 13 of the 2002 season, when he racked up 247 yards from scrimmage. Or a month later, when he had 243 rushing yards against the Raiders. Or the next year, when he had 9 catches for 148 yards and 2 TDs against the Lions. Or in 2006, when won League MVP honors and set the single-season touchdown record with 31—a record he holds to this day.

When you hear of LaDainian’s feats on the gridiron, it makes you wonder what got him there, what made him successful. He opened up about it in a moving enshrinement speech, telling us all a little about his family history, starting with his great-great-great-grandfather; “…170 years ago, George was brought here in chains on a slave ship from West Africa. His last name, Tomlinson, was given to him by the man who owned him. The family legacy that began in such a cruel way has given birth to generations of successful, caring Tomlinsons. I firmly believe that God chose me to help bring two races together under one last name, Tomlinson.”

That’s so powerful. LT’s family, like that of many African Americans, were enslaved — deprived of the basic human right of freedom, deemed the property of another man. But LaDainian chose to take that past—which is horrible—and turn it into a positive. He led his family into a mindset where they were not only committed to overcoming, but equally committed to loving. He empowered his family to see themselves as agents of change: the perfect ambassadors for bringing two races together. He took something horrible, and figured out how to make something good come from it.

Just like LaDainian, God wants to turn the evil in our lives into good.

In Genesis 50, there’s a story about a man named Joseph. When his brothers sold him into slavery, God blessed Joseph, and guided him to becoming one of the king’s most influential advisors. One day, while speaking to his brothers, Joseph says, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

I believe that, as he did with his family story, LT spent his whole life taking the bad things in life, and making them good. And I’m not just talking about finding the silver lining in every situation, I mean he worked to redeem things that were wrong and broken, and turned them into something that was good—a blessing.

That’s how LaDainian made it to the Hall Of Fame. What could God do in your life if you chose to accept the challenge and rise above any injustice and adversity you faced?

Miles McPherson is a former NFL player and the Pastor of Rock Church in San Diego, California. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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