Sam Acho, LB for the Arizona Cardinals.

Posted: October 11, 2011 by John D. Hayden in NFL

Sam Acho (Photo: Arizona Cardinals.com)

“Faith and sports go hand in hand, without my faith,  I would not be able to do what I do
on the field.” ~ Sam

Samuel Onyedikachi Acho, otherwise known as Sam Acho, is a rookie linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals. I had the opportunity to get to know Sam better this past month by twitter and e-mail. I asked Sam about his faith in God and his
Christian walk. The following is what he shared with me.

Sam was born and raised in Dallas, Texas.  He attended St. Mark’s school of Texas, a small private school, where he was a three-time All-Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC) performer, and four-year member of the school’s honor roll. Sam also lettered in basketball and in track and field at St. Mark’s.

After high school, Sam attended the University of Texas, where he excelled on the field. Last season, Sam earned third-team All-American honors (AP) and became Texas’ second William V. Campbell Trophy winner (nation’s top football student-athlete). Sam also excelled in the classroom and in the community as well. He became just the seventh two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American in Longhorn history and a seven-time member of UT’s Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. Sam also was active in a community service program and was part of a group of Longhorns that regularly visited patients at Dell Children’s Medical Center.

Even with all these accomplishment is his life, the greatest accomplishment he has is his relationship with Christ. His middle name means, “Who is like unto God”. Sam lives by that name and tries every day to be like God. Being in the NFL is a huge blessing and he intends to make the most out of this opportunity. His Spiritual Journey in his life started at a young age, but it really blossomed when he went to college. His parents have been a huge influence on his spiritual growth. They have been married for 28 years and have been the greatest example to his siblings and to himself.

Sam’s dad, Dr. Sonny Acho, has been a minister for over 20 years. A little over 5 years ago, he started his own church, the Living Hope Bible Fellowship, which is a multi-cultural, Bible based church. His mom, Mrs. Christie Acho, is a God-fearing, Proverbs 31 woman. Both of his parents instilled his faith in God in him at a young age. When Sam got to the University of Texas, he plugged himself into a church, the Austin Stone, and joined a Bible Study. He gives props to Trevor Walker, who was the quarterback at that time, for really helping him grow in his walk. The next year, Sam’s brother Emmanuel, came to the University of Texas with him. Seeing that his brother was on fire for God and passionate about his spiritual life inspired Sam to be more fired up for God.

Sam wrote that his faith is all about community, and when he falls he has brothers in Christ who continually pray for him, challenge him and encourage him in his walk. Michael Erickson is one of those brothers. They went to school together and Michael always prayed for Sam and encouraged Sam. Rich Bartel is another one of those brothers who is helping Sam continue to develop his passion for Christ, Rich is a quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals who has a huge heart for the Lord and for people.

Sports have actually increased Sam’s faith and have given him a platform that he would not have otherwise. Sam said, “Jesus gave each one of us gifts and talents and I’m trying to make the most of mine.” Every game day Sam starts with prayer and then heads to the team meetings and breakfast knowing who is in charge. Once he arrives at the stadium, he puts on his headphones and listens to Hillsongs on Pandora while looking at the game day brochure in the hot tub soaking. He then gets taped, stretches, and then right before the Cardinal’s head to the field, Sam says a quick prayer at his locker, then its game time.

The passage of scripture that has been the most powerful to Sam in his walk with Christ is Colossians 3:23, “In everything you do, do as if you are doing it for the Lord and not for men.” He recites this verse every time he steps on the field. Sam even gave me advice for my 10 year old son and told me to tell him to keep his head up and keep working hard because eventually things will work out. Things have worked out for Sam in his life, but he gives all the glory to the one who made him, God. It is great to see professional players taking a stand for Christ and living passionately for him both on and off the field. Thanks Sam for sharing your story with me and now with the world.

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