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Twan Russell: Finding peace

Twan Russell’s childhood dream was to be an Olympic decathlete. As one of five brothers growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., there was plenty of sibling rivalry to develop his competitive spirit. In 1992, Russell won the high school state championship in the 330-yard hurdles. Although he started as a linebacker at the University of Miami for two years, Russell didn’t think his future was in football — until the Washington Redskins picked him in the fifth round of the 1997 NFL Draft.

Russell attended church with his mother, stayed away from trouble, and participated in team Bible studies. But, now he admits his motives were misplaced.

“I went just to make myself feel good,” Russell says. “Then one night after Bible study [teammate] Darrell Green told me, ‘Twan, I’ve been watching you, and you do all the right things. But there’s something missing.’” What followed was a conversation that forced Russell to answer some tough questions about his lifestyle for the first time. “What’s keeping you from having a relationship with Christ?” Green asked.

“I had never answered that question honestly,” Russell says. “But I told him what it was.” Green’s response flabbergasted Russell: “So you’re going to let [that] send you to hell?”

Russell went home and committed his life to Christ. “I never had peace; I could never sleep at night,” Russell says of his days before he accepted Christ as Savior. “I repented of everything I had done and asked God to take the taste of sin out of my mouth.”

Today, Russell’s life has new meaning. He has peace. He has a wife and two children. And he has a deeper sense of purpose.

“Football has given me a platform to share my faith,” says Russell, now a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. “It gives me the opportunity to share what happened [in my life] so others can be encouraged.”

Maintaining his testimony, Russell says, means surrounding himself with godly influences. “If you saturate yourself with Christian things — music, prayer life and studying the Word — you’re not going to have problems keeping your faith,” he says. “What you feed your mind and heart is what you show when things get tough.”

— Isaac Olivarez

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