Every once in a while we get lucky. We get lucky because someone comes into our lives who makes us feel good — makes us feel re-energized.
I’ve known former Alabama running back Shaun Alexander for over twenty years, and while we don’t run into one another often, my mood improves every time we speak. And when Shaun joined the Huts And Nuts podcast for over thirty minutes to talk about life, love and loss, I was left nearly speechless — while feeling grateful and blessed.
Who can forget #37 running wild for the Crimson Tide football team in the late nineties?
The native of Florence, Kentucky ran with an attitude on every level at which he played: He was the 1994 “Mister Football” in the state of Kentucky, a 1999 first team All-American at Alabama (he left UA with 15 school records) and the 2005 NFL Most Valuable Player as he suited up for the Seattle Seahawks.
Yet, while Alexander is admired for his athletic exploits, what he has accomplished since leaving the sports arena is what turns my head.
Shaun Alexander, a born again Christian, met the woman who would be his wife shortly after arriving in Seattle. After a two year courtship, Shaun and Valerie were married in 2002 and kissed for the first time on their wedding day. “From there,” Shaun explained on the Huts And Nuts Podcast, “we made up for lost time.”
The couple soon welcomed their first child, a daughter who is now sixteen. Then came another child and then another. And today? “We are expecting our eleventh child,” Shaun noted, as he joked, “Yep, 11 kids, all with the same woman.”
As we all know, true tests of strength and faith come during dark times, and the Alexander family copes to this day with a tragedy that unfolded on May 24, 2017.
That is the day when Shaun and Valerie lost their then-youngest child, Torah, who was found unresponsive when Valerie tried to wake her from a nap.
Valerie, in a beautifully-written tribute the following month, said, “Our hearts ache and hurt with the deepest of pain we have ever felt. There have been moments, minutes and hours of pure agony, tears that seemingly flood our eyes without ceasing. Shaun and I hurt for each other and for each one of our children. We are clinging to God for strength and comfort.”
While the story of Torah’s passing is not widely known, the former Bama star wanted to speak out about his loss and the many lessons learned.
As Shaun told me, “I tell my kids that this pain will not last forever. We will see her again, worshiping God together, walking hand in hand. It’s going to be awesome, and when you know that, nothing moves you off of that. Pain passes, and being in heaven forever? It’s worth going for. It’s not like, ‘Man, we lost her after 70 days,’ it’s more like, ‘We were blessed to have 70 days with her. Those days were awesome.’”
Shaun Alexander starts his day at 5:30 a.m.
Breakfast, Bible study and classes take up many hours of the day, as Shaun and Valerie home school their kids. Shaun stays busy working with his Shaun Alexander Foundation. He also partakes in his “Finish The Game” podcast while contributing to his website and continuing to offer up motivational speeches.
And when all the kids are asleep just after 9:00 p.m., Shaun and Valerie have a whopping 30 minutes of alone time before they turn in.
Every once in a while we get lucky.
Shaun Alexander’s strength, resilience and character should be envied. And the moral of this story? Our world is a better place with Shaun Alexander in it, and for that, I’m blessed.
Listen to the full podcast interview: