OSU legends Maurice Clarett and Roy Hall shared testimonies at a gathering Saturday night, January 12, 2013 at Shiloh Chapel, Marysville, Ohio. Young and old alike came out to hear the message presented to a packed church house. Pastor Bobby L. Mitchell D.D., D.S.L. of the Father’s House in Columbus, introduced the speakers with a word to the audience to consider as they listened to these men, “What testimony will I have? Decide who will I be like, and what Godly legacy will I leave my kids.”
Maurice Clarett, best known for his years as an OSU running back led off sharing his story. From Youngstown, Ohio, Maurice led Ohio State to victory in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. His time at Ohio State however, made him both famous, and then infamous, as several troubling incidents led to his dismissal and later criminal activity to incarceration.
Roy Hall, an American football wide receiver and fellow teammate of Clarett’s at Ohio State, drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft to the Indianapolis Colt’s introduced Clarett. “The last impression of Maurice is when you saw him going away for a few years. We do remember him from the National Championship game. He was probably the best player in college football. We do remember without Maurice Clarett, we would not have won that 2002 BCS National Championship. He was the best tailback coming out of high school. These are the positive things we remember about Maurice. The negative for some reason or another tend to outweigh that. The tendency is to judge people based on what they did. When the reality happened to be playing (football) everything single Saturday, his ‘demons’ were brought to life,” Hall recalls.
Hall goes on to state how living in front of the cameras puts an individual under constant scrutiny. Most young college students don’t always make the wisest of decisions all of the time, but with football stars, the media magnifies the negative and places life events under the microscope. Obviously proud of his friend’s victories after coming to Christ and rebuilding his life, Roy introduces his good friend Maurice, who takes the spotlight.
The audience enthusiastically welcomes Maurice to Marysville who humbly takes the microphone. The man from Youngstown, Ohio, credits his relationship with Jesus Christ for keeping him on-track since prison for armed robbery back in 2007. “My life has to mean something. I can’t just be another average Joe. I have to make an impact in someone’s life. I have to make a difference. What’s your life going to mean at the end of the day,” Clarett states.
The culture of the inner city impacted Clarett in way he found difficult to overcome when football at Ohio State thrust him into the limelight. “I had more access to anything from sex to drugs, partying. It’s all the worldly things that anyone can fall victim to at age 18 with no direction. Poor decisions lead to alcoholism; I fell into depression, popping pills, just trying to hide away from pain,” Clarett recounts. “I knew I was in the wrong place, in the wrong space. There was more out of life.” Clarett found the ‘more’ in his relationship with the Lord.
Clarett, while in prison, started a blog, called “The Mind of Maurice Clarett.” While he no access to the internet existed in prison, Clarett’s girlfriend, Ashley Evans, posted his blogs. In May of 2009, Clarett was asked what the most important lesson he learned since leaving the Ohio State University, and he responded on his blog, “I wish I had paid more attention to what people didn’t say rather than what they did say. I wish I had the ability to detect intentions and I wish I knew where I really fit into the big scheme of things at OSU. Your question is a good one but I wish it was broader. There were a lot of lessons learned but I can’t say that one outweighed another. I am not sure if the answer provided answers your question or not but I hope it helps. If you can take one thing with you, learn to listen to what is not said and learn to pay attention to intentions and body language. It helps to separate what’s real and beneficial from the nonsense.”
Back in October, 2010, Clarett posts this encouraging statement, “Think strong, live strong, and stay tough. There is a light at the end of every dark tunnel. I’m living proof that anything is possible to achieve as long as your spirit stays strong and you learn to love yourself. When I smile these days I don’t just smile for myself but I smile and laugh for every person who is still suffering from either pain they brought upon themselves or pain that has been afflicted on them by someone else. I’m loving life and I’m living it. I couldn’t have imagined this life six months ago. God is real. His grace and mercy has definitely played a role in my transformation. Think strong, be patient, have faith and act courageous when adversity strikes.”
Out of his pain, Clarett encourages others struggling to persevere and push through the pain with the Lord. He uses his experience to help others with their stuggles. Clarett expresses his hopes that the bad will not be his final testimony; he wants to make a positive impact.
Roy Hall returns to the stage after his friend to speak on the topic ‘Test Your Testimony.’ He shares Revelation 12:11 “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their Testimony,” and encourages everyone to share their testimony when opportunity presents itself. “Don’t hide it because your ashamed, because it can lead people to overcome with Christ,” he comments.
Hall shares his testimony being raised in a home with a physically abusive, heroin-addicted father, then by a single mother after divorce, but demonstrates how the Lord help him overcome, and feels showed him favor when he was picked in NFL draft ahead of that year’s Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith despite a less impressive record that year.
Hall's post-football, started the non-profit organization in Central Ohio, the Driven Foundation, which provides both educational and motivational programs, support services and events to families and youth.
After the presentation by the star athletes, the two talked with fans, posed for pictures and handed out photographs to area youth and interested adults.