Curtis Martin was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 4, 2012.
However, his induction speech seemed to have stopped time and will forever be remembered as one of the greatest stories ever told by any professional athlete.
At a time when player arrests and off-the-field transgressions are at an all-time high, we sometimes forget about the truly heroic, inspirational figures that professional athletes can be.
Approaching the podium with no prepared speech or note cards, Martin recalled a troubled youth that included the discovery of his grandmother beaten and stabbed to death in her apartment when he was nine years old.
And watching his father literally torture his mother by means including beating and burning her, and a time at fifteen years old when he had a gun pulled on him, and fired, only to have six clicks of the trigger misfire, while on the seventh with the gun pointed away from his head, a bullet was finally expelled.
Martin recalled how he lacked a passion for the game of football. Although he used it as a means to escape the hardships of his reality, his heart was not into it. Upon being drafted by the Patriots in 1995, Martin turned to his family and stated he didn’t want to play football.
That's when his pastor, Leroy Joseph, said: "Curtis, look at it this way … maybe football is just something that God is giving you to do all those wonderful things that you say you want to do for other people. I tell you, it was like a light bulb came on in my head."
Martin went on to amass 14,101 yards rushing and 90 touchdowns. However, his legacy is one of not only great stats, but one of inspiration, dedication, and a work ethic towards not only the game of football, but also in his personal life that is unmatched. Curtis Martin is a reminder that football players can still be heroes, and that greatness can emerge from tragedy.