Stallings' Courageous Journey
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- What is it that fuels the fire way down deep -- the obsession burning within that drives past expectations?
T.C. Stallings says he thought that fuel was football.
Before Stallings' time at Louisville, he was a football star at Bedford High School in inner-city Cleveland, rushing for 19 touchdowns his senior season.
But while succeeding on the field, T.C. was missing something off of it, until just days before his career with the Cardinals began.
"Playing with the University of Louisville was the biggest blessing that ever came my way," he says. "I had always dreamed about being a big-time football star, ever since I was about 12 years old. I had my eyes on a lot of schools. Coming to Louisville and playing – the way the city wrapped around me as a player – was fantastic."
But there was a dark side to Stallings' life: a lack of relationship with his father.
"It took me a lot of years to get over the hurt and disappointment of not knowing my father for so many years," Stallings says. "I met my father for the first time when I was 18 years old. It was just one of those things where, you know, I'm getting ready to go off to college at the University of Louisville, and out of the blue, my mother says, ‘You wanna go see your father?' I'm like, ‘Yeah!'"
"Well, I go to see him, and when I got there, it just wasn't what I wanted it to be," he adds. "For so many years, I was resentful. I would see fathers in the stands watching their sons play. I would even see movies where little kids were playing catch with their dads and I was thinking about what I could have been had my father been around to do those types of things."
T.C. would play four years at the University of Louisville, and six seasons in pro football in the NFL Europe, the Canadian, and the Arena Football leagues. But everything changed one afternoon when he was alone in his car, and he realized what his true calling really was…
"I heard on the Christian radio station that a competition was coming to Florida called the AMTC, which is Actors and Models and Talent for Christ," he says. "I figured that would be my ticket to have an opportunity to do Christian films."
After a long wait, T.C. was given the role of "T.J.," a gang member in the movie "Courageous," which -- of all things -- is about the importance of strong fathers.
"I walked up and I saw six or seven cameras and all this equipment and all these people walking around and all the things that make up making a movie – all the lights. And I'm like, ‘Wow…praise God! I'm here.' This is like my Super Bowl. I wanted to be in the NFL as a running back and I didn't make it there, but this is where you want to be as an actor. You want to be in a major movie, and God has blessed me to be here."
That movie inspired Stallings to re-examine his own life – and his own relationship with his father.
"I just decided to treat it like a car," he says. "If you tilt up the rearview mirror, you can't see what's behind you. So forget it. I'd be a hypocrite to be in this movie and promote this movie if I don't even have a relationship with my Dad, when the excuse of not knowing him and not knowing where he is not there any more."
Now, he says the two have reunited, and are on good terms.
Additionally, Stallings says he's on a new mission.
"The bottom line is that all these gifts and talents that God has blessed me with – my goal now is just to use them to glorify him. My platform now is to glorify God."