Former NFL superstar and ex-felon Michael Vick spoke at Liberty University’s convocation to tell students how one Bible verse changed his entire outlook on life and the mistakes he made.
Vick, who served 23 months in federal prison for his involvement in a dog-fighting operation, said he began familiarizing himself with the Bible as a young child, but it didn’t click for him until he was incarcerated.
Vick quoted Psalm 23, which famously begins, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
“Every time I read it, it took on new meaning,” Vick said. “Every time I read it, I believed it.”
Vick, who now works as an analyst for Fox Sports, said he stopped caring about the Bible when he signed a nine-figure NFL contract.
“I felt like [the Bible] was the gateway to get to the NFL even though I didn’t understand it,” Vick said. “When I got drafted, and I got the $100 million contract, this didn’t come with me. I really felt like I did it on my own. I totally forgot about the prayers I had at night where I asked God to forgive me for all of my sins. From the time I got drafted to the time I went to prison, I never picked the Bible up again.”
After becoming one of the best players in the NFL by 2006, Vick spent most of 2007 through 2009 imprisoned in Leavenworth, Kansas, after pleading guilty to federal conspiracy charges related to a dogfighting operation that was running on one of his properties.
Vick said he was introduced to dogfighting when he was 9, and was fooled by how it was portrayed by older kids in his neighborhood.
“My perception changed because what I saw was not the same as what I heard,” Vick said. “I fell into the trap of thinking it was cool.”
Vick’s turnaround since prison has been miraculous. After being imprisoned for animal abuse, Vick has become an animal welfare advocate and a dog owner. He had a successful second-half of his career, and is now beginning a promising television career.
“My mom told me before I went in, ‘Psalm 23 will get you through,’” Vick said. “It gave me strength, it gave me a reason to believe. It empowered me in such a way where empathy and sympathy became important, perseverance became important, being a role model became important again.”