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“Lost, Like Me.”
It is a tragic story. Clayton Holmes from Florence, South Carolina.
The trajectory of success: A top athlete at Wilson High School – great quarterback in football, good at baseball, the school’s #4 tennis player and no slouch when it came to long-jumping successes either. Then there were his stellar performances in college football. One of his coaches claimed he was the best athlete in South Carolina.
By 1992 another big break came. That’s when the call from NFL Dallas Cowboys came through with a $200,000 signing bonus and a $1.3 million two year deal followed by three Super Bowl rings. Along with this came the big house in Dallas and his fancy white Mercedes 560 SEC at 23 years of age. Like other rich and famous athletes, now he was able to go to the nightclubs and flash $100 bills at the exotic dancers.
Friends came out of the woodwork hoping to take advantage of Clayton Holmes big break and his generosity. Even relatives and family hoped they had found a cash-cow. And generous he was. Kind and helpful. Next he married Lisa and then fathered a child – little Briana.
But in 1993 he suffered torn ligaments and he was out for the season. That’s when things began to unravel. Enter booze. Enter pot. Enter philandering, cheating and adultery. Then in 1995 Clayton was suspended from the Cowboys for cocaine. Lisa left with Briana. He was suspended as well for the entire 1996 season. A new deal signed with the Miami Dolphins in 1997 was short lived. He wasn’t clean and he was released.
The downward spiral accelerated. Determined to call it quits he swallowed eight Trazodones. But as drowsiness set in Holmes said: “I decided I couldn’t go through with it. I guess there was too much to live for,” and he called 911.
Therapy and counseling followed. But eventually Holmes decided to return to his roots. Back in Florence, South Carolina where he started. It wasn’t the good section of the city – but it was home.
He lives in a shack in the front yard of his mother’s trailer. The windows are busted out. There’s no running water and the little light over his bed is powered by an extension cord run from Claudia’s trailer. To get around, this former 38 year old NFL star no longer drives the hot car – he pedals his bike.
Against this backdrop, Clayton Holmes wrote the lyrics to his song:
Lord, where my life go?
Lord, it’s real.
The pain I feel.
As I struggle up this long hill.
Life’s so strange.
It’s filled with these pressures and pains.
That make you veer away from your game.
Now you’ve lost your aim.
And it’s all a part of the game.
To see if you can rise and maintain.
There’s so many things to blame.
Yes, there’s a blame.
There are many things and people Clayton could blame. He got off to a very brutal start – a childhood where his mother repeatedly belittled him and lashed him with an extension cord, while she used bats and brooms on his other two siblings. But that was the type of parenting she too received as a child.
They lived in dire poverty and shared underwear, pants and shirts enduring the stinging ridicule of other kids at school. But an even deeper scar remains from his older brother sneaking into his bed, covering his mouth and sexually molesting him. And then there is the memory of going to live with his dad. When his father aggressively questioned him about something he had done wrong, young Clayton started to sob. That’s when his dad punched him in the face with his big fist and knocked him out.
Sandwiched between his painful childhood memories and his current life at-the bottom were a few fleeting years of success. But the fun evaporated quickly. Life is hardly fun anymore.
Clayton Homes at 38 is still kind and generous but he’s broke in more ways than one. You don’t have to tell him that in addition to everything else – he’s also been a miserable father and a lousy husband.
Most of the details above came from Jeff Pearlman’s heart-breaking story in ESPN.com entitled: From a Benz to a Bike. At the time of the interview, Clayton Holmes wanted to tell his sad life’s story. He wanted people to hear his story and to learn from it.
“Parents have to love and cherish and look out for their kids, or else they’re gonna wind up just like me.” Pause.
“Like me,” he says. “Lost.”
A more accurate word could not have been selected to end the story. “Lost.”
In Biblical terms, Clayton Holmes would be considered a lost sheep, wandering on a rugged mountain on a cold night, shivering, wool stained with blood from scrapes and cuts, no sense of direction. Defenseless and vulnerable to predators. Lost and perishing.
Jesus said of Himself: “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Luke 19:10
When the elite of society condemned Jesus for paying attention to sinners, Jesus responded with this vivid illustration to make His point.
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep,
if he has lost one of them,
does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country,
and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?
And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors,
saying to them,
‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
Just so, I tell you, there will be
more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Your story is likely different from Clayton Holmes. You may be taking another path in life. But you too are lost. Everyone who has strayed from God’s original purpose is lost – whether they feel it or not. You may try to find yourself through religion or friends, careers or pleasure, philosophy or psychology. But discovering yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t lost.
Your lost condition can exhibit itself in many different ways but at the core people in their sins are lost spiritually. Lost to God and lost to God’s original purpose for them. That explains the lingering emptiness inside, despite repeated efforts to fill your life.
Are you the lost sheep?
Let me introduce you to the Lord Jesus Christ – the Good Shepherd. He deeply cares for lost sheep. Each one is precious to Him. So precious, He laid down His life on the Cross in order for lost sheep to be saved.
Will you let Him save you now? He has the love to do it as well as the strength. He can reach you wherever you are just now. He hears the faintest bleating from the most out-of-the-way sheep. He can put you on His strong shoulders and carry you home to warmth, love and safety.
And joy will erupt in Heaven when it happens. Yes – over you. One lost sheep.
Pictures of Clayton Holmes and facts about his life were taken from Jeff Pearlman’s story in ESPN.com in January. The entire story can be read online at: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=pearlman/080110&sportCat=nfl