Many would know Scott Hamilton as an Olympic gold medalist and a figure skating commentator who had cancer, but few had an idea on how he accepted Christ until his video was featured on the "I Am Second" website this week.
In his video testimony, the former skater recounts a tough journey that began when he was little. He suffered from what was a mysterious disease at that time that stopped him from growing.
"I was in and out of hospitals for years and I was never really home," he shares. When he returned home after countless hospital visits, he ended up going to "the skating club thing just by accident."
"And I found skating which kind of took on a life of its own."
From that point on, however, he would face many more tragedies, including the death of his mother who was battling cancer. That devastation awakened something in him. "I knew I needed something more," he recalls.
Not wanting to be "less than what she (mother) thought I could be," Hamilton went on to win 16 consecutive national and world championships starting in 1981. He nabbed a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics and was inducted in both U.S. Olympics and World Figure Skating Hall of Fames.
"I don't think anyone's truly equipped to go out in front of 1 billion, 2 billion, 3 billion people on an Olympic stage, and you're scared of your mind, on a 200 by 100 surface of ice," says Hamilton. "But I found a way to be just good enough to win the gold medal. The more I look back on it, I think that's been unbelievably awesome."
But he acknowledges in his testimony, "I think I'm probably more known for my health problems now than I am for anything I ever did on skates."
In 1997, at a career high, Hamilton was forced to leave the ice to undergo chemotherapy for testicular cancer.
"What was about to happen really changed my life forever," he shares. He survived cancer.
"I survived something that took the most important person in my life off the planet … I survived. What's my purpose now? What do I need to do?"
It was at that moment in his life that he met his wife, Tracie, who brought him to church. "She took me to a minister, a man named Ken Durham. And the first thing he said to me, which was extraordinary was, he goes, 'You have to understand that Christianity is a faith of history. These things actually happened.' And I go, 'OK, that's a good starting-off point.'"
Hamilton and Tracie married and had a son. But another hardship came his way when he discovered he had a brain tumor.
When he told his wife, she took his hands and started to pray. "And it was in that moment I knew where I was going to put everything... my trust, my faith, everything." Hamilton called it the most powerful moment in his life.
Hamilton learned that he was born with the brain tumor, which inhibited his growth as a young child. "That was the mysterious illness I had that they never diagnosed, that got me into skating … I'm 5'4; if I were 5'8, where would I be? … I choose to look at that brain tumor as the greatest gift I could've gotten because it made everything else possible."
While the tumor was completely removed, it returned six years later. Hamilton didn't think he'd survive then and he was doubtful of being able to have another child. But then "Miracle Max" happened.
Looking back, he adds, "I understand that through a strong relationship with Jesus you can endure anything. I just learned that the only true disability in life is a bad attitude."
"God is there to guide you through the tough spots. God was there every single time, every single time."
"My name is Scott Hamilton and I am Second."
I Am Second is a movement which seeks to inspire people by allowing them to see and hear video testimonies of how celebrities and everyday persons have overcome their problems through finding their identity in Christ.