(Photo: Reuters/David McNew)
The producers of the "I am Second" Christian video testimonies debuted Cy Young Award-winning pitcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw's story about his Christian faith on Thursday – the opening day of Major League Baseball season.
Kershaw joins a team of celebrities who have shared their stories of struggle, transformation and hope as part of the I am Second movement.
I am Second is a website that features short films related to a variety of personal struggles, including abuse, addictions, pride, eating disorders, broken families and the search for success and meaning in life. Its mission is "to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others. Actors. Athletes. Musicians. Business leaders. Drug addicts. Your next-door neighbor. People like you."
In the latest film, Kershaw tells of how his parents were divorced when he was 10 and he was consumed by anxiety for much of his childhood. He worried about things that he couldn't control.
He and his single mom struggled to figure out how they could afford to send him to college. In the end, he turned down a scholarship from Texas A&M to sign with the Dodgers after being drafted seventh overall in the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.
"It was just amazing providence that God had in my life," Kershaw said on the film shot in a black room with him sitting on a large sofa-like chair under a bright light, in the style of the I am Second videos.
"God was there the whole time; I just didn't bother to look. I never thought in a million years I'd get to play professional baseball, get to play in the major leagues, get to live out my dream. Since I was a kid that was all I wanted to do," he said.
Although he has been showered with honors in his short career, the most important thing to him is using his God-given influence to help others. "For me it's about the legacy you leave off the field," he said.
He and his wife, Ellen, are working with a ministry called "Arise Africa" to build an orphanage in Zambia. Hope's Home, named after a child who lost both her parents to AIDS, will house 12 kids when construction is completed.
"We're just doing the part that God gave us," Kershaw said. "You can't think that we can change the whole country by ourselves, but God can."
During the 2011 season, Kershaw also donated $100 for each of his strikeouts – a total of $24,800 – to his ministry, Kershaw's Challenge: Strikeout to Serve. Over $100,000 has been raised for the orphanage, reaching the goal needed for construction, including contributions from the Dodgers and private citizens.
He said in the video that when he goes out on the mound to pitch he always prays for God to be with him. "Whether it be pitching on a baseball mound, or living my life outside of the baseball field, it's giving up my life to God that really puts my life in control," he stressed.
For Kershaw, being a Christian means you "have to keep reminding yourself that you're supposed to stand out, you're supposed to be different, you're supposed to act boldly in your faith. It's not easy, but it's worth the fight."
Kershaw became the second high-profile Los Angeles athlete to have his film released on I am Second. USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Matt Barkley provided a film last November as the Trojans made a return to the national limelight. It is expected that other Southern California personalities will be featured in coming months.
Celebrities featured on the site include Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton, country musician Josh Turner, actress Bailee Madison, Dallas Cowboy Bradie James, NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne, Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton and surfer Bethany Hamilton.
Kershaw's video and other I Am Second videos can be seen here.