an inspiring author who is dedicated to empowering youth is also the driving force behind a powerful foundation
Love and faith were the guiding forces of Brian Jordan’s childhood as he grew up in Baltimore with his older brother and sister, raised by two loving parents who taught him what it meant to follow the teachings of Christ and to live a life devoted to God.
One of his earliest memories related to sports was when he was six years old and his older brother tried to prevent Brian from following him and his friends around. But when one of the older boys had to leave a football game early, “I went in there and scored a touchdown,” Brian recalls. “After that, they always let me play with them. The lesson I learned that day is that when you get your opportunity, you have to be tough and go out and prove yourself. And if you do, good things come of it.”
Not only was it a portent of the determination that would eventually turn Brian into a two-sport professional athlete, but decades later, it also inspired his first children’s book, called ‘I Told You I Could Play,’” published in 2005.
Another such moment happened when he was nine years old and a pitch hit him hard in the jaw. “It was tough to get back in the batter’s box after that,” Brian says. “My dad finally told me, ‘You’ve got to get out there again. Whatever your fear is, you have to face it.’” Together, father and son practiced until Brian could face an incoming pitch with confidence again. “It was a powerful lesson from my dad in overcoming fear. You’re going to get hit as a baseball player, you’re going to get hit as a football player, but you always have to get back in the game.”
As a small child, Brian admired the young African-American men he saw on the professional baseball diamond or football field. Knowing that Jackie Robinson and other athletes had forged the way for future African-American players was something that kept him going even when circumstances occasionally got ugly. But it was Brian’s parents who always served as his strongest role models. “They taught me to dream big. They taught me that if you want to achieve a dream, you have to stay focused.”
His senior year in high school, Brian was drafted by the Cleveland Indians, but his parents, who had always made it clear to their children that education should be their highest priority, said he had to go to college before he could consider playing in the pros. During his junior year at the University of Richmond, he was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals. At that moment he faced a big decision about whether to give up college football. Instead, he decided to sign with the Cardinals on the condition that he could return to school for one more year to see if he had a shot with the NFL.
What followed was a college football season good enough to earn him a likely spot in the NFL draft. But then he sustained a serious injury during the Senior Bowl. Waking that night in a hospital bed, his leg in a cast, he saw his mother still sitting by his side. She reminded him of a favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Brian held firmly to his sense of faith, disregarding the opinions of doctors who told him his football days were over. Three months later, his leg held together with plates and screws, Brian was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and was ready to be sent to training camp when he found out he was cut from the team. While driving home, he got a call from his agent telling him the Atlanta Falcons wanted to sign him. That was the start of his NFL career.
Over the next few years, Brian played the two sports simultaneously — football for the Falcons and baseball with the Cardinals, then the Braves, and then the Dodgers – and eventually became one of only two athletes ever to be named both an NFL All-Pro and an MLB All-Star. He published a second children’s book, this time about bullying and the difference that one person who steps forward can make in a child’s life. But still, he wanted to do more to give back to the world. That desire led him to found the Brian Jordan Foundation (http://www.brianjordanfoundation.com/), committed to creating and supporting programs for children and their families that will directly improve their quality of life by building healthy minds, strong bodies and supporting places to grow.
Recently, an even bigger dream has started coming true for Brian with the establishment of the Kennesaw State Brian Jordan Center for Excellence at LakePoint, a sports development outside Atlanta. Furthering the mission of the Brian Jordan Foundation, the new partnership with Kennesaw State College is geared toward working with underprivileged kids through approaches such as mentoring, tutoring and college scholarships to help them succeed in life.
With his ability to apply lessons learned in sports to becoming a better person and inspiring others to do better as well, Brian Jordan is a valued member of the Insightful Player team.
Instant replay of Brian Jordan’s guiding principles:
- When an opportunity to prove your worth arises, grab it and use it to the best of your abilities.
- Adversity happens, whether in the form of a disappointing decision or an injury.Learn to meet those challenges by getting back in the game as soon as you can rather than letting them defeat you.
- Remain confident in your own abilities. Don’t let other people tell you that you aren’t good enough.
- When obstacles arise, stay focused on the goal beyond those obstacles, and insist on pushing your way past them.
- When people look down on you – whether because of your age, your race, your status, or any other reason – use their negativity as a motivation to prove them wrong.
- Find people who inspire you.
- Follow your faith and let it guide you.
- Believe in your ability to achieve your dreams.
- Make education your highest priority, because it is your surest path to lifetime success.
- Understand that disappointments are not God’s way of testing you but rather God’s way of giving you a different opportunity.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her newly released book,INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610
©2015 Insightful Player, LLC
Former MLB All-Star, NFL All-Pro, author, and founder of the Brian Jordan Foundation, Brian Jordan is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.