(Photograph: The PowerHouse Agency)
Trent Shelton thought his dreams came true when he made it to the NFL but it took being cut from multiple teams and overcoming depression for him to realize that God had a bigger plan for the athlete that would involve challenging millions of people to turn to Jesus Christ and change their lives.
Shelton, the 29-year-old founder and president of the Christian non-profit organization, RehabTime, is a motivational speaker, YouTube sensation, and author who has gained over 2 million Likes on Facebook. Although Shelton was named one of the 20 most inspiring people on the web by under30CEO.com, he had to overcome his own pain before he could motivate others.
Shelton, the son of a preacher, was used to being the star football player in both high school and college. However, it wasn't until he got to the big leagues as an undrafted free agent that God began to humble him.
In 2007, Shelton was signed to the Indianapolis Colts before bouncing to the Seattle Seahawks in 2008 and played his last year in the league for the Washington Redskins in 2009. Shelton's parents may have instilled Christian values in him, but the athlete became depressed and started to resent God after his football dreams began to wither away.
As a result, he turned to temporary things to ease his pain.
"That's the problem I feel a lot of times. It's that we have a relationship with God that our parents gave us or our grandparents gave us and not really a relationship for ourselves," Shelton told The Christian Post. "I didn't have that relationship, so I turned to things that were temporary whether that be drugs, whether it be partying, certain things that filled me up for the moment but at the end of the day made me feel empty again. Instead of my faith increasing, my faith was really decreasing and I became angry at God at that point."
When he first prayed about joining the league, Shelton promised God that he would use the opportunity to spread His word. However, the athlete soon forgot those promises and was forced to learn a tough lesson about humility.
"I put myself on a pedestal. I forgot about God and put him in the backseat of my life," Shelton admitted to CP. "I wasn't trying to help people, I was just trying to advance my life. So I believe he humbled me real quick and showed me that despite how powerful you think you might be in this world or your status level, you're nothing without Me."
Once a star athlete, Shelton became depressed and felt ashamed to be seen publicly because he didn't want to be questioned about his uncertain future in football. He began making videos on the BlogTV video stream website jokingly, at first as an outlet.
"It would get to the point where I didn't want to go anywhere because I wouldn't want people to ask me what team am I on right now or I thought everybody inside was laughing at me. I thought I was a failure so I became so depressed," Shelton revealed to CP. "So those videos for me was my outlet. I feel like that was my release instead of going to certain drugs, instead of going to the alcohol, instead of going to the pills I started releasing my pain through those videos."
Shelton started out speaking about football in his videos, letting people know what to expect from the league. He soon found out that although people had different issues, no one is exempt from dealing with problems in life.
Those BlogTV videos eventually transformed Shelton into a YouTube sensation. In 2009, Shelton might have had to think about killing his NFL dreams but God had a bigger plan, the birth of RehabTime that very same year.
Now, the one-time professional athlete is not only inspiring people through his YouTube videos, Twitter and Facebook pages, but he is traveling all around the country and world to offer people messages of change and hope through the grace of God with his RehabTime organization.
"If anybody wants to change I want them to think of RehabTime. So that's the single mom, that's the person that lost their job, that's the former athlete, that's the kid in school that's getting bullied," he told CP. "So when these things happen we're actually in the process of developing our program for people to come get rehab which is putting the strength back into what they do."
Shelton's organization offers online programming and life coach opportunities for people who want to turn their lives around regardless of their circumstances. He teamed up with college friend and fellow athlete, Baylor Barbee, to share his inspiration in the form of four motivational books, and travels around the world to get people focused on their purpose in their life, loving themselves and their relationship with God.
The athlete takes his motto, "change starts with you," seriously and has developed a six week course for people looking to change on breakingyourownheart.com. He is currently working on creating programs like Prehab for teenagers to help them avoid some of the issues they may face in adulthood and is attempting to develop applications that will give people an opportunity to facilitate a change in their life anytime, from anywhere.
While many of his subscribers and commenters say Shelton helped them deal with romantic relationships, the motivational speaker insists that his message is much bigger than that.
"A lot of my videos I'm not necessarily talking about men and women relationships. Sometimes I am because I talk about friendship," he told CP. "But I think with anything in life whether it's relationships with your job, relationships with your kids or significant other it rules the world because you can go to any disagreement or any depression and it usually stems from a relationship or a lack of relationship with God. So that's why I focus on relationships because relationships honestly run this world in some form or fashion."
Although Shelton was motivated to become a better man by his 5-year-old son, he calls his greatest accomplishment helping people strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ through RehabTime. While the former NFL player once dreamed about a lasting career in the league, he now knows that God's vision for his life was better than he could have ever imagined.
"I know I talk a lot about catching your dreams but it's really not about your dream. My dream was football," Shelton told CP. "I really would encourage people to pray and ask God to reveal his purpose for their life. When you're living in His purpose it doesn't matter about the money..you have a peace that surpasses all understanding and it's beautiful to just live in your purpose. So I would just encourage anybody out there to just find a purpose and walk in your light."