Deion Sanders, the Hall of Fame football player and current NFL Network analyst, hit proverbial rock bottom 20 years ago. With his marriage crumbling and other challenges getting the better of the former two-sport superstar (he played pro baseball for the Atlanta Braves, among other teams), Sanders drove over a cliff in 1998 with the intention of dying.
As Sanders hoped would happen, he met his maker—just not in the expected manner. Both he and the car were undamaged. Sanders doesn’t believe it was an accident that he has gone on to live happily ever after. God was with him on that journey, Sanders says, and he has never left the star’s side.
Whether you are a believer or not, Sanders’ story is remarkable. Outwardly, he was—and remains—one of the most self-confident public figures you’ll ever see. But as high as his highs have been, his lows have been equally steep.
As he steps onstage as a keynote speaker at Connect Faith this year, Sanders has been restored. Never one to err on the side of subtlety, he is taking a literal approach to his rebirth: Sanders is the public face of Restore, a hair-regeneration company whose product has brought back some of the star’s former locks.
Connect spent some hair-raising moments with Sanders discussing faith, football and standing up for what you believe in.
What are you going to tell our Connect Faith audience?
I don’t know what I am going to say until I touch the microphone. That’s the way God works with me. There’s nothing preconceived or written out. The thing I want people to know is that if it weren’t for the Lord, I’d be 6 feet under right now. He saved me. I’m thankful; I’m appreciative. I try to maximize every moment I have.
How were you saved?
There was a time in my life when I didn’t want to be part of this world. I wanted to take my own life. Slowly but surely, I have been restored… replenished, rejuvenated and revitalized. I am so thankful that I now understand that even at my lowest points, there was a place God was trying to take me.
You seem so confident on and off the field. How did you reach such a low point?
The thing you need to understand is when people have public success, there are going to be private struggles. People tend to think money is the solution to all problems, but money is a material thing. Everyone has trials and tribulations. What separates us is how we handle it.