Chris Pressley, 26-year-old Cincinnati Bengals fullback, scored his first career touchdown this season, but the New Jersey native's journey to the NFL was anything but easy.
Pressley grew up in a single parent household with five siblings. Although the FB has been in the NFL since 2009, his Christian faith has brought him through childhood adversity, like staying in a homeless shelter.
Jacqueline Pressley, Chris's mother, admitted that living in a shelter was a scary time for her family. However, she told Courier-Post Online that she was blessed to have her future NFL player son persevere through the tough times.
"I was afraid to go, but they had one big room for us because I had six kids," Ms. Pressley said. "They had six beds in there, and you did your cooking with a microwave. It wasn't a good situation, but compared to some shelters I've seen, it was not that bad. I'm blessed in the fact that Chris didn't give up, and I know there were days when he felt like saying, 'Forget it.'"
However, Pressley had learned to overcome days when the electricity would be cut off from his home before moving into a shelter and the financial struggles stemming from his father's failure to pay child support. Instead of focusing on negative circumstances in his life, the budding football star leaned on God, kept his grades up and improved his athletic abilities.
"If you have a God-given talent, take that and use it to the best of your ability and have faith that your life will turn out OK in spite of everything," Pressley told the Courier-Post. "Whenever tough times came up for me, I just held onto an understanding that God has a plan for my life. And no matter what happens, it's not about that time right there."
While Pressley was signed as an undrafted free agent to the Bengals in the 2009, he later joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad. However, he joined the Bengals again in late 2010 before scoring his first career touchdown last month.
Ms. Pressley said her son has been an inspiration to his entire family.
"I'm proud of all of my children, but Christopher is someone all of us look up to. My baby, who is a Marine and has been deployed twice and seen some really bad things, said he was so choked up seeing Chris get his first touchdown in the Jacksonville game this season that he had to leave the room," Ms. Pressley told the Courier-Post. "Brandon said, 'Because of Chris, I'm able to do what I do.' Even me, his mother, he shows me if you keep working hard you can achieve your goals."
Although Pressley recently suffered a knee injury in a 34-13 win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 13, the FB took to Twitter to count his blessings.
"Blessed (because) I went down doing what I truly love (with) coaches and teammates by my side in front of friends family and #whodey nation," he tweeted. "Thanks for (the) support."
The NFL player and Woodbury, N.J., native who says Solomon is his favorite person in the Bible, credits his faith for helping him overcome obstacles throughout his life.
"Faith is such a powerful thing, and my mom got me to believe from the bottom of my heart that things were not going to remain the same if I worked," he said in a Courier-News report. "If you close your eyes, bury your head and control just what you can control, then that's all you can do. And I think that's all I've ever done."