When Mike Flynt returned to play college football last year at the age of 59, his story was splashed across media outlets nationwide.
Less publicized, however, was the faith that pulled him out of his darkest hours.
In 1982, Flynt had become so depressed that he told his wife, Eileen, one afternoon that he felt like the easiest thing for him to do was take his own life.
“And she began to tell me how much Jesus loved me and the plan he had for my life and how important I was to him,” recalled Flynt.
“She prayed for me. We cried. But I knew, from that day on, that things somehow were going to be different,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network.
While accounts such as Flynt’s are nothing out of the ordinary, what catapulted him onto the national stage was his decision to return to college football nearly four decades after he was kicked off his college team before his senior year.
With his final year of eligibility confirmed by the NCAA, Flynt was able to make the team at his alma mater – Sul Ross State University – and became the oldest contributing member of a college football team in NCAA history.
"I was personally inspired by Mike's courage and faith. He proved that the past does not have to define a person's future," said Don Yaeger, a four-time New York Times best selling author, who worked with Flynt on The Senior, which details Flynt’s inspirational story.
ESPN's Jim Rome has called Flynt’s story "one of the best sports stories I have ever seen.”
“An all-timer," he added.
Since his unprecedented season, Flynt has been courted by national endorsement agreements and movie deals.
Through it all, however, the hope of the former college strength and conditioning coach is to inspire others.
"With every opportunity I now have, I stress to people that it's never too late to tackle your dreams," Flynt says.
And more so, that it’s never too late for God to heal a heart.
"It was like a light had come on and had shown me what was truly important in life," writes Flynt in The Senior, recalling his conversion at the age of 34. "All I needed to do was trust in God and believe in his Son, Jesus. Words didn't matter and my past didn't matter – God's grace would cover that. I was his child and he was my God; everything else would just work itself out. And it did."
Published by Christian publishing giant Thomas Nelson, The Senior was released on Oct. 7 and includes a foreword by NBA superstar LeBron James, whose athlete management company recruited Flynt.
"Mike never gave up that dream, even at age fifty-nine," James writes. "He never allowed anyone to take away that dream, no matter how old he was or what he went through, and that's why I was so inspired by his determination."
After completing his senior year of eligibility at Sul Ross State University, Flynt returned to his responsibilities at Powerbase Fitness, LLC, where he continues to help people of all ages live a better, more productive life through strength training. Flynt has been married to his wife, Eileen, for the past 35 years. They have three children.