I grew up in San Diego and had a great church home. My mom and dad are two very strong Christians and led me to know Christ very early in my life. I was able to grow up with the right people around me. Going through life every day was a great experience, as these people were able to explain to me what it’s like to be a Christ-follower.
I played three sports: baseball, basketball and football. As I grew up I realized the basketball players were a little too tall for me, and the football players were a little too strong for me. I narrowed it down to baseball and found out that I could get a college scholarship in doing so. I was able to get drafted out of high school to the Seattle Mariners. It let me know that pro baseball could be in my future, but I knew I was going to college.
After three years at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, I was drafted again and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008. And finally, in 2014 I made it to the big leagues.
Knowing how to live as a Christ-follower in college was one of the toughest things I faced at UNLV. Being a college athlete, there are a lot of things you deal with. As a junior, being drafted, I felt untouchable. I got caught up in the Las Vegas lifestyle a little bit, finding myself doing things I shouldn’t have been doing and going places I shouldn’t have been going. I was trying to be somebody I wasn’t.
There was a time when my coach pulled me into his office and had me listen to a message someone had sent him. The message alerted my coach that I had been going to bars and doing things I shouldn’t have been, underage. They told him I was pretending to be someone he wasn’t. “Is this the type of player you want representing the Rebels?” That question rang through the machine in front of me and all of my teammates. He wanted that to be an example to the team of what not to do.
That embarrassed me. I was supposed to be a leader for my team, I was supposed to be a Christ-follower, but I wasn’t living out these things. That day, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Who are you?” That was not the person I wanted to be, nor was it the person I was raised to be. From that moment on, I dedicated my life to Christ.
I knew that if I was on the wrong path, baseball would be taken away from me. And while I wanted to pursue baseball, first and foremost, I wanted to be a follower of Christ. The way I approached the game changed from that point on. Previously, I had baseball on a higher pedestal than God. Once I realized that’s not how it works, I was able to come back down to earth and center Christ back into my life the way He should be.
— Xavier Scruggs, professional baseball player
Xavier Scruggs is a regular contributor to The Increase and provides monthly articles and opinions. Check out Xavier’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/xavierscruggs/
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