Beyond the Helmet: A Journey of Faith and Fortitude in College

My career at Michigan State University started with a 49-hour Greyhound bus ride from Dallas, Texas. I was excited to start a new chapter in my life, as I realized my dream of playing college football had come true. Everything was going great for my first two years, until tragedy struck.  

My father passed away due to a heart attack minutes before I would take the field for an important football game. I played in his honor that day, then left school to make his funeral arrangements. A little over a year later, my mother passed away in my arms after battling breast cancer. Throughout that time, I had my two dogs Roxy and Remi who helped me cope with the pain. A lot of times, I wanted to give up. I battled with depression and started to struggle in football. However, I kept my faith in God and continued to tell myself that I would make my parents proud. 

joshua butlet

Joshua Butler

On Senior Day, I walked into the Michigan State University Spartan Stadium for my last football game with my two dogs, because my parents were not able to join me there, as was customary. My story went viral in the worldwide media and was published on major news networks. Since then, I have received renewed hope that my story can be an inspiration to those who are suffering through difficult times and encourage them to never give up.

Although I may have experienced a lot of difficulties, I have been able to persevere through my faith in God and hope for the future. I was fortunate enough to play college football and graduate with a Master’s Degree in Media & Information and I plan to play in the NFL. I know that my story isn’t finished yet and I will continue to push ahead.  

You always have your whole future ahead of you and God has a plan for you. Never let the past hold you back. You have come this far by grace and you can go on to do even greater things.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11

Joshua Butler (@joshbutlertv)


2023 Update: Since sharing this story with us in 2020, Joshua Butler has gone on to be drafted to the Dallas Cowboys . Congrats Josh, your story is still being told!

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