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Virginia Tech Linebacker Puts Partying Ways in the Past

Virginia Tech Linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka is one of the anchors for the Hokies defense. He shows promise of a future in the NFL. However, a couple of years ago he was in danger of squandering away his football career.

“You know, messing with girls left and right. Drinking every weekend. I started smoking. And it just—you know, everything just feeling good at the time," said Andrew.

Andrew and his family are originally from Tonga, a small island in the South Pacific. His father was military and moved the family to Virgina Beach, Va. where he attended high school. Though he was raised with Christian values, he had never accepted Christ into his heart. His parents stressed the importance of prayer.

“So all I remember was a little kid growing up just from my—from my parents to my aunts, my uncles, remember to say your prayers," said Andrew.

Saying his prayers was all but forgotten when he came to Virginia Tech on a football scholarship. He quickly fell to the woes of the college party scene and being a college athlete.

“My sophomore year. I’m the back up 'Mike' linebacker. Me and my boys, you know, we’re drinking, smoking, doing all this stuff. And um, I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

Shawn: Did you feel like you were getting everything you needed from that?

“Definitely not. Well I mean at the time I felt like man, this feels good. It feels good. I can keep doing this, stuff like that. But never really internally felt satisfied," said Andrew.

In the middle of the 2015 season, Andrew was given a starting linebacker position when his teammate was injured. He felt on top of the world, until his roommate told him something that would haunt him for months.

“He had told me that he had a dream that me and one of my other teammates had got into an accident, like a really bad car accident. For some reason I would always have these thoughts that I’m going to get into this big car accident," said Andrew.

Andrew became fearful that he could lose everything he’d worked for and possibly his life. While on Winter break that year, he and his brother were getting ready to drive to nearby Richmond, Virginia to see their sister play volleyball. Andrew was afraid to get in the car.

“I tell my brother come inside, I was crying my eyes out, telling him like man, I haven’t been living right. I have been, you know, doing this, this and that. I don’t even pray, I don’t remember the last time I prayed. And so he tells me oh we should pray about it. So I was like, 'All right, let’s pray.'”

After praying with his brother, Andrew says he fell like  something had changed. But didn’t know what to do about it. So when he returned to school, he went back to his old habits. This time it was different.

“I smoked two times. The second time I literally felt I was going to have a heart attack. Like I was going to die. So I was like I’m done with this," said Andrew.

So he went to see Dave Gittings the sports chaplain at Virginia Tech.

Shawn: What did he say?

“He’s like, 'Man, you know, God’s grace is bigger than all that.' And no, I didn’t understand all that.”

Still seeking answers, Andrew went to a bible study in connection with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes called Cross-Training. One of the speakers was talking about having eternal life through Jesus Christ.

“He prayed a prayer. And he was like if you don’t know if you’re going to heaven or hell, you know, please come up and talk to me afterwards. And I didn’t, you know, I didn’t know," said Andrew.

Afterwards, he talked to the speaker, who asked Andrew if he knew, he was going to Heaven.

“I’m like I mean, I think—I think I’m going to heaven. He’s like no, do you know for sure you’re going to heaven? And I’m like man, I don't know.”

It was then that Andrew realized what he needed to do. So he gave his life to the Lord.

“That’s the day where I say like yeah, like I confessed with my mouth and believed with my heart," said Andrew.

Andrew now understands that defense can go far beyond the football field. Because while he’s covering an offense, god has him covered both on the field and off of it.

“Ephesians 6, you know, I wear this bracelet on my hand. Everyday soldier E6. And this kind of just reminds me every day. Really just putting on the full armor of God. It’s kind of like going out on the football field and not having your helmet on or, you know, going into a game, no left cleat or like missing knee pads, thigh pads or whatever it is. You just wouldn’t feel the same on the field if you were missing these things. And so kind of reminds me every day, man, to put on the armor and just to, you know, get ready," said Andrew.

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