Injured NFL star: ‘I want to thank the Lord’

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Ryan Shazier joined his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates for practice yesterday as they prepared for Sunday’s playoff game against Jacksonville. This would not have been news a few weeks ago, as Shazier is one of his team’s most disciplined and valuable players. He was a first-team All-American in college and has been named to the Pro Bowl the last two years.

However, on December 4, Shazier suffered a severe injury after a tackle. He underwent spinal stabilization surgery three days later to secure his injured spine and help with neurological recovery.

He explained his presence at Wednesday’s practice: “I want to thank the Lord for the first downs that he has been allowing me to achieve. The touchdown is going to come in his timing, but today was a first down. I was finally able to make it to practice with my teammates.” He added, “The Lord has not finished his work yet.”

Shazier suffers from alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. He was taunted and ridiculed as a child. His parents helped him develop an altruistic attitude he carries with him to this day.

His father, who is a pastor and a football coach, explains: “My message is always to act like a champion.” His son has Philippians 4:13 written on his left arm: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

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