Former Indianapolis Colt and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Steve Grant spent three days in Brown County schools this week, speaking to students about decision making and the consequences of bad choices.

“The Preacher Man” as he was known during his National Football League career spoke about personal experiences and “IOP.”

“There are three main things in everyone’s life,” Grant told a group of high school students at Bangs High School. “Imagination, obstacles and perseverance.”

“Imagination is nothing more than a vision or dream — a creative ability that forms something not yet recognized by the senses,” Grant said.

Setting and achieving goals was one of the highlights of Grant’s speech.

“You have give yourself a starting point, a sense of direction and realize how far you have to go to reach where you want to be. Giving up before reaching your goals is a tragedy in life. Regret is a tragedy.”

Raised in Miami, Grant said he was a “basketball player trapped in a football player body.”

“I was offered scholarships to play basketball and football,” Grant said. “Obviously I chose football. It would have been wasted potential not to use my skills and talent to achieve my goals and dreams.”

Grant said he faced many obstacles being raised in Miami.

“When my father quit my mom, he quit me. My father taught me to be a quitter. I saw my friends quit jobs, quit school, quit all of the right things. Quitting is nothing more then delaying a confrontation with reality,” Grant said.

Solidifying his point, Grant told the audience he quit the varsity football team “…not one time, not two times, not three times, but yes folks, four times.”

Growing up in an environment where quitting was common, Grant said his outlook changed in an instant.

“Someone said to me, ‘Do you realize football could be your key to going to school for free?’ Right then, I knew I was going to have to go back to the coach, who I could not stand and ask him if I could come back.”

Grant told the students the four most common obstacles facing teens, and some preteens in the United States are sex, drugs, alcohol and relationships.

Telling stories in a rapid fire and blunt manner, Grant said choices made today will effect tomorrow.

“In my opinion, when you take dating to another level, you are setting yourself up for failure, and by the way, this is for the young ladies in the audience, even though a guy might be ‘so cute’ now — will he be a person who is going to be able to pay the bills 10 to 15 years from now. The bottom line is that hooking up is dangerous outside of marriage.”

Some examples Grant used were students contracted sexually transmitted diseases, drinking and driving equaling death and the deadly consequences involved in using drugs.

“You are not a born winner. You are not a born loser. You are a born chooser,” Grant said.

The ‘P’ in ‘IOP’, Grant said is for perseverance.

“Perseverance is not quitting. If you are willing to be determined, not quit and willing to sacrifice today to achieve your dreams tomorrow, I guarantee you will be successful in life,” Grant said.

Imagination, recognizing obstacles and overcoming them and practicing perseverance are three principles that can assure a life of prosperity, according to Grant.

Despite a strong showing as a linebacker and two-time Most Valuable Player recipient at West Virginia University and a seven-year career in the NFL, Grant said he experienced real success when he accepted Jesus Christ into his heart.

“I stumbled through life wondering who I was. Trying to find answers in power, position, wealth, possessions and women, only to realize the more I sought these things, the emptier I felt. When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, life was no longer meaningless. I understood that God had a purpose for my life, and I was significant,” as it is written on Grant’s Sports World Ministries football card.

After being saved, Grant said he followed a simple formula to avoid the pitfalls many professional athletes experience.

“All of the Christians would hang out together to avoid temptation. I held myself accountable to the other athletes. We would have Bible studies. It is too easy to get involved with other women, drugs and alcohol.”

Grant said someone in his past is the reason for his extensive travel, speaking to students.

“Someone took time with me to impart something into my life. Many tried, but it was one person who caught my attention. If I can reach one kid, then I know we are doing what we should. Real success is being selfless and using your time, talents and abilities to advance the goals of someone else.”

Norman Tinkler, vice chairman and chief executive officer of TexasBank, one of the several sponsors responsible for sponsoring Sports World Ministries during Grant’s visit, was excited about what was learned.

“Today’s youth face many tough issues, and programs such as Sports World Ministries help students recognize the consequences of their choices and challenge them to make wise decisions. TexasBank is dedicated to serving the needs of our community and we are excited to sponsor someone of Steve Grant’s caliber to deliver such important messages to local youth.”

For more information about Sports World Ministries, visit www.sportsworld.org.