NFL All-Pro Quarterback Derek Carr says faith was a priority in his parents' home while growing up – so much so that he was not allowed to play on traveling teams if the game fell on a Sunday.
"I was raised in the church. My grandpa was a pastor, my uncle was a pastor, my other grandpa was a deacon, my dad was a deacon, my mom's a worship leader, my grandma is a pastor," Carr, the starting quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders, said while laughing during an interview on Tauren Wells' The High Note podcast.
"... My mom and my dad, they taught me that my faith was number one."
That priority impacted Carr's traveling football schedule. Carr was born in California before moving to football-crazed Texas with his family during his tween years.
"If there was a game on Sunday, as a kid, we always told my traveling coach, 'I'm not gonna be there, I'm gonna be at church.' They made the priorities, the priorities. And it worked out for me – I made it to the NFL. So all these moms and dads that say, 'No, we have to go to your games at eight years old,' – you know, it's okay to miss one.'"
Despite growing up in a Christian home, Carr says he didn't make his faith his "own" until he enrolled in college. He credits much of his spiritual growth to his mentor, musician and pastor Mattie Montgomery, who he met after college. They talk often on the phone.
Carr, an outspoken Christian, says he has learned from Montgomery to put his faith into practice, even in the most mundane, everyday moments. He told Wells how he encountered a woman in need of prayer at the recent American Century Championship, a celebrity golf tournament. At the time, Carr was eating breakfast in an outdoor tent.
"I felt the Lord telling me, 'I want you to pray for that lady,'" Carr said.
The woman was a photographer.
"She was limping, and I knew she was going to have to walk all day and take pictures and all this kind of stuff. And so, I shared a story about how my mom was recently healed. I said, 'Can I just pray for you?' And she goes 'absolutely.'… So I prayed with her. And the next day she comes back, and she's like ... 'Hey, you prayed for me. I walked for three and a half hours, took pictures [and] I had no pain, all the pain left. … I just want to say, 'Thank you.'
"I was like, 'Praise God.' Even though we had fun at golf, that was the victory that weekend," Carr said.
The All-Pro quarterback said he wants his faith to be an outward expression of what he believes.
"[That means] really believing that Jesus could heal someone in the middle of a hospitality tent, really believing that Jesus could set someone free in the middle of Chipotle in San Francisco," he said. "I've had so many stories where I began to put it into practice."
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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Nick Cammett/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.