I was just about two weeks into my first fall camp as a Stanford football player when I was pulled aside one day.
"Hey, is your family okay?" asked Duane Akina, our defensive backs coach. "There's a flood in Baton Rouge."
I had no idea what he was talking about...I was fresh into the Stanford program, so I had turned off my social media accounts before camp started, just to avoid any outside distractions. I had no idea what was going on outside of my own bubble, so when Coach Akina asked if my family was alright, I didn't know what to say. I grabbed a phone to call my mom, and the answer was both yes and no.
Everybody in my family was safe and sound, but there had indeed been a major flood in Baton Rouge. A storm had wiped through my hometown and unleashed three times as much rain on Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina had 11 years earlier. The flood claimed the lives of 13 people and caused more than $10 billion in damages. That financial toll included both my childhood home and my grandparents homes, both of which were destroyed.
Here was the worst part - neither my parents nor my grandparents had flood insurance. Everybody knows about New Orleans and its low elevation, but Baton Rouge is 81 miles away from the coast. It just doesn't flood here....until it did. So without insurance, the storm's impact was truly devastating.
My mom, being the caring person she is, had tried to not tell me about it so I could stay focused on football. So when I finally did hear the news, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Some of our most cherished items in the house - like our family photographs - had been destroyed. As she was telling me all of this, my mom was staying composed on the phone, but I could tell she was holding it all in.
I can't say the same for myself, because when I heard the news, tears came to my eyes.
When I got to Stanford, I wanted to prove myself and show my strength, but after hearing that news I suddenly found myself being vulnerable. Even if I wanted to go home, I didn't have one to go back to. But at what could have been my lowest moment, God showed up a big way.