Athlete Profiles:

Derek Anderson

The "right thing" for Derek Anderson has been to pursue his own path directed by God. It has helped carry him to an NCAA championship with the University of Kentucky ; to a first-round selection in the 1997 NBA draft: to seven straight NBA seasons with double-figure scoring; and now, in his fourth season with the Trail Blazers, captaincy of his team.

"Where the belief came from is a mystery truly known only to God," Anderson says as he explains his journey to Jesus. Anderson knew to reach out for God even if he knew virtually nothing about Him. "I'd just say, 'God, please help me do this and do that.' I had no idea there was God and Jesus and that they were two different people." The result is difficult for Anderson to explain. He simply says, "He basically gave me a vision to see Him without seeing Him, and you can't really describe that."

In being named captain, Anderson clearly earned the respect of his teammates. One way he has earned it is with protectiveness of his teammates motivated by Christian love and compassion.

With excitement that generates a huge smile, Anderson says, "God is giving me direction and focus. I'm on my way."

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Tim Tebow

As the current quarterbacks for the last two national championship teams, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow have taken center stage in two of the most intensely scrutinized college football programs in America. Even as sophomores, this concept is not lost on McCoy and Tebow. They know they are being watched. They also know that with the immediate access they have to so many people, the opportunities to be a model and a spokesperson for Jesus Christ are preeminent. "In some places it's not the cool thing to do or the popular thing to be and God is not No. 1," says McCoy.

Tebow and McCoy were both hatched from close-knit, deeply Christian upbringings that saw them come to faith at an early age. Tim Tebow's fater, Bob Tebow, heads the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, which claims to be the conduit of close to 9 million people coming to faith in Christ in the last 8 years.

An NFL career is a goal for both of these young quarterbacks, but they are realistic enough to know there are no guarantees. McCoy looks forward to what God has in store. "God willing, I'd like to be in the NFL, but the important thing to do is His will."

Shaun Alexander

Whether Shaun Alexander spends his Sunday morning wearing a football jersey on a field or a suit in a pew, he's the same guy. "Shaun is a Christian 24/7," says close friend and teammate Mack Strong. "He's a great example. It's a testimony to him, to God."

Alexander has made a lasting name for himself in the NFL. The accomplishments and praises he's received are only dreams for many. He's not surprised by his success; he's always set lofty goals and worked hard. Now he's a household name, but he says, "This is no time to say, 'Look at me.'" That's because, for Alexander, it's not just about football. "I play football to make a difference in people's lives."

The difference he wants to make is a difference for Christ. He has a heart for providing hope, especially for youth, and giving to others as unto the Lord. That's the purpose of his foundation and the community center he started with his brother. "You can't outgive God," he says.

The best day in his life? Being valedictorian of his graduating class? Setting NFL records? Becoming 2005 MVP? No. "It was the first time I led someone to Christ," says Alexander. What else would we expect?

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