(Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

When my teammates heard the news, they all stepped in to try and help. People like Frank Buncom IV, Justin Reid, and Quenton Meeks reached out to make sure I was alright. I might have been over 2,000 miles away from home, but I didn't need to fight this battle on my own.

I kind of knew that the guys in our secondary would reach out. They're all incredible guys, and even in our short time together we had formed a bond.

What I didn't expect was the entire Stanford community stepping up as well.

Somebody in the Athletic Department started an online fundraiser for my family, and even though I think I had heard about it, it was kind of put on the back of my mind. And just like my mom had done a few weeks before, she was on the phone with some big news to share.

"Malik, we have one hundred thousand dollars."

Her tone wasn't in the way like we had struck gold...It was in the tone of disbelief and shock in the generosity of people. And of gratitude. Overwhelming gratitude. So many people had pitched in a few dollars to help, but I still remember looking and seeing that the biggest contributions were from anonymous donors. These were people who might have met me, but they had almost certainly had never met my mom.

And yet these people wanted to give their hard earned dollars to help somebody, just because they felt like it was the right thing to do.

It reminds of the story of the Good Samaritan, where a man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. The thieves beat him before taking off, and he was left on the road to die. Two other people passed him on the road and did nothing before a Samaritan came upon him. Although he was from the land of Samaria and had never met the man lying on the road, he took pity on the man and bandaged his wounds.

And even though some of these donors had never known my family personally, they definitely helped bandage our wounds. Not just financially either, but emotionally as well. It makes you realize how many good people there are out there.

(Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

I think one of the other things that helped was having such a strong faith in God. I joke that my grandmother used to go to church eight days a week, but she was always there. And on Saturdays I would see her pray for four hours. Four hours! I would wander off when I was a kid, and when I would come back in to check on her, she was still there. The craziest thing was to realize she was often in there praying for me. It was that foundation of faith that helped me when the storm hit.

I firmly believe that God doesn't put anything on your plate that you can't handle. God puts difficult things in front of us, but He gave us the courage and perseverance to overcome them. And as strong as the storm was, my faith in God was way stronger.

My parents and grandparents were really helpful during that time. In fact my Dad gave me a cross necklace this past offseason that I still wear everyday. It's just a reminder for me of the example that he sets for me, and the example that Christ set for him.

As the waters began to subside, my parents and grandparents both began to put their houses back together. My parents were able to rebuild pretty quickly, thanks to the fundraiser, while it took my grandparents just over a year to get back to normal. 

The resilience they showed in that time really helped me out, because a few years later I was going to encounter some adversity here with the Stanford football team.

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Thomas Hager