Ever since he was eight years old, Lamar Slade had been playing organized football. He grew up in Yorktown, Virgina and is the younger brother of Chris Slade, who played for the New England Patriots from 1993-2000.
“I wanted to play football partly because of my older brother,” said Lamar Slade. “My father never really pushed me to play football and
he just said that it was up to me. I really enjoyed the game and it just took off from there.”
Lamar played wide receiver at Tabb High School, but wasn’t recognized by the college scouts so he decided to go to Fort Union Military Academy for prep school. It was there that he got offered a full-ride scholarship to play for the University of Pittsburgh. During his time at Pitt, he was teammates with current Arizona Cardinals’ superstar Larry Fitzgerald and former NFL wide receiver Antonio Bryant. Lamar played at Pitt from 1999-2002 where he piled up 93 receptions for 1,083 yards and seven touchdowns during his career. During that time at Pitt, Lamar said that he met some Christ-like individuals, but never paid too much attention to them because he did not know the Lord at the time.
“I enjoyed my experience at Pitt,” he said. “There were probably some things that I could have done better looking back, but I met a lot of good people while I was there. You can’t complain, because a full-ride scholarship is always good. I got a chance to play on T.V. and that’s something I can tell my kids one day. I didn’t pay much attention to the Christ-like people around me back then. My best friend now was a strong believer while I went to Pitt. He was a teammate of mine and he always said that he was going to be a preacher. He was a very strong influence, but I didn’t recognize it back then.”
After graduating from Pitt, Lamar was an undrafted free agent that got signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, he was one of the first ones cut from the team during training camp. Fortunately, Lamar had another chance to pursue a career in football when his agent gave him a unique opportunity.
“My agent asked me if I was still interested in playing football and I said yes. Then he told me that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League wanted to sign me. So I said ‘Sure. I’ll give it a shot.’ Before I knew it, I made the team and I was playing for the CFL in Ontario, Canada.”
Lamar Slade played on special teams and was a back-up wide receiver for the Tiger-Cats for two seasons. Then in his second season in the league on November 2006, Lamar had something drastic happen to his life.
“We were playing against the Montreal Alouettes that day,” Lamar said. “I was blocking on a kick-off return when one of the opposing players hit me right in the side of my knee. I knew that something was wrong and that it wasn’t a minor injury as soon as it happened.”
When Lamar went to the hospital to get an injury report, the doctor told him that he had a torn MCL, a partially torn ACL, and a torn meniscus. He told him that he would need surgery and that he
would have to come back in three weeks to check the healing process. During that time, Lamar had met a pastor that lived in the area. He was recommended by Lamar’s old neighbor, who was a pastor and is considered his mentor to this day. He told Lamar about the pastor before he left to go play in Canada.The man’s name is Russel Worrad and he ministered to Lamar and helped him during the healing process in Ontario. So when Lamar came back to the doctor for a check-up, he heard some astonishing news.
“When we came back, the doctor told me that he had never seen anything like this in my knee,” said Lamar. “He said that I wasn’t going to need surgery. All I needed was rehab and I would be back to where I needed to be. I felt God drawing me from there, because that was just incredible news.”
So he could better recover from his injury, Lamar went back home to Virginia. He caught up with his old college teammate and they started going to church together at Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Virgina. At the church, Lamar met a man named John who was a Christian man living in the neighborhood and he was looking for a church to have fellowship in. He ended up becoming Lamar’s Bible study partner. Lamar’s life would change on a Wednesday evening service.
“I was supposed to meet my best friend there for a Wednesday evening service and it was a Bible study,” Lamar said. “I showed up at the Bible study and I didn’t see my best friend there. Still to this day I’m a little upset with him about that. Any way, John was with me and after the service was over he asked me if I wanted to stay around a little longer and I said sure. I was still recovering from my injury and my best friend wasn’t there, so I couldn’t really go anywhere. We talked for a while and he ended up sharing the Gospel with me and that was the first time I ever heard the Good News. I never knew that I sinned against a holy God and that my sin deserved judgment, but Christ came and died for my sin. After he explained that to me, he asked me if I wanted to give my life to Christ and I said ‘Yeah! Sure!’ Even before that, God started to draw me towards Him and my injury was a God-ordained thing that happened to me. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that God is in everything. He was able to set this up so that I would meet this guy and give my life to Christ.”
I was very fortunate to meet Lamar Slade on a God-ordained occasion. I was at my church shooting some hoops outside last summer and Lamar spotted me from driving by the church. He decided to join me and after shooting hoops for a while, I slowly but surely got to know Lamar’s story and how Christ has been heavily involved in his life.
“I was a pretty prideful person before I gave my life to Christ,” he told me. “I still have moments where I’m prideful, but I can’t just say that He changed one thing about me in particular. My whole life is changed. The verse that stands out to me is 2 Corinthians 5:17 where it says, ‘So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away. Look, what is new has come!’ My life has changed from the inside out.”
Today, Lamar Slade is 31 years old and is a social worker that works with autistic and physically disabled people. Right now he is taking online courses through Liberty University, hoping to become a pastor one day. He is also a part-time assistant and youth pastor at New Market Baptist Church in Newport News, Virginia. I am proud to say that he is a good friend of mine and his story has influenced my walk with Christ. We always meet up to play football and basketball once or twice a week and it’s a joy being around him every time. I pray that his story could influence others as well and that God working through him will impact the lives of everyone.