Recently, I had the honor and great pleasure of meeting someone who I only knew of as a name on the boxes of clothes that were given as gifts to my children last Christmas at Star of Hope’s Transitional Living Center. I was told that ESPN wanted to do a special on The Donald Driver Foundation and wanted to interview some of the people his organization had helped and I was one of them. After learning this, I did a little research on him just to get some background information so that would know exactly who it was that I was meeting and would be speaking about.
The unknown Good Samaritan for my family turned out to be Donald Driver … a Super Bowl Champion, 2012 Dancing with the Stars winner and a man with a genuine love for people. I watched several videos of his testimony and they both shocked and touched me. During his childhood his family had faced similar struggles that led me here to the Star of Hope Mission. At one point in his life Donald and his four siblings and mom had been homeless; at one point living out of a U-Haul truck until his mom decided to split the kids up and send them to relatives until she could provide for them better. It was heartbreaking to hear that in his teens Donald began selling drugs; his own way of trying to ease the financial strain of their life.
Not unfamiliar to this type of story of how poverty, lack, struggle can so easily turn into more pain and tragedy whenever drugs are involved, I was happy to learn that Donald turned away from this negative lifestyle, much to the credit of his beautiful wife, then girlfriend, who gave him an ultimatum … drugs or her.
But learning all of this did not fully prepare me for actually meeting this great man of integrity. While walking to the office of his self-named foundation, I came face to face with the infamous Donald Driver himself. Humble and gracious, he eased my nervousness, greeting me with a hug and a smile. I never would have thought that someone so accomplished and famous could be so welcoming and down to earth. As we waited on set to be interviewed, his mother Faye (one of the most kind hearted women I have ever met) and Marvin (Donald's little-big brother) kept me in a tidal wave of emotions. One minute I was ready to cry, listening to their struggles and how their faith helped them to overcome, and the next moment, I was in tears from laughing at the silly things that Marvin said.
As I look back over that day, the entire event seems surreal and spiritual. It's amazing and inspiring to be able to see how God can change situations, how struggle and pain can birth perseverance and integrity. Donald has been given the opportunity to turn tragedy into triumph and not just in his life and career but in countless others lives as well. His athletic abilities gave him his passport out of financial hardship, poverty and a life of crime, but his heart and genuine compassion extends his blessings to others still hoping to overcome their struggles and succeed. I was truly blessed to be able just to meet him and his family. I am thankful for them, and not just for the clothes that they so lovingly provided for my six children. I am grateful for their raw humanity, compassion and willingness to be a reminder that no matter what trials you face in life, you can overcome them all with faith and perseverance!
Star of Hope Transitional Living Center Client