Former Bears and Chargers player Tommie Harris has delivered a staggering brave, honest and inspirational message at this year’s Super Bowl Gospel event. The former NFL defensive tackle revealed how his wife passed away from a brain aneurysm just over a month after the pair were married. But that is not the end of his story – something that happened just 11 days before his wife passed left the entire audience stunned.
“I remember sitting in an auditorium with my wife and I was watching a man come up there also and talk about he lost his wife,” the footballer explained. “As I was sitting there in the audience I was only married for 30 days. I didn’t know that only 11 days later I would lose my wife.”
The crowd expresses a collective exhale at the devastating news. But then, Harris delivered a beautiful message of hope that was nothing short of astounding.
“I’ve realized that death is something that happens in life, it is not a thing that happens to life,” he said.
“Make life count. Make it count! I don’t care what it is. When was the last time you took a big deep breath? Right now, take a deep one. Let it out. As long as you have that in your body, you’ve got the Brady effect. At any moment, I’ve got time on the clock, I can come back at any moment. I know things happen in my life, but I can make a change at any momen.t”
— BET (@BET) February 9, 2018
Harris continued to deliver a stirring message of hope in the face of trouble.
“I came here to encourage all of you that are going through a difficult time, that trouble doesn’t last always. I’ve never seen a cloud sit over one person’s house for a long time – this too shall pass – it has to!”
Then, Harris references a famous scripture, Psalm 30:5 –
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
“We’ve been made to endure the night, and our joy will come in the morning,” Harris bellowed as applause rang out across the auditorium.
Harris is open about his faith on social media.
— Tommie Harris (@Tommieharris90) February 12, 2018
The speech clearly resonated with others, as the reactions just kept coming in.
“There has to be a reason this came across my feed today. There has to be. I’ve been feeling like that black cloud has been hanging over me for wayyyy tooo long. It’s time for me to take that deep breath and move forward,” one person commented in response to the video. “I lost my youngest daughter 20 years ago this coming May 17th and I can attest and testify that joy certainly does come in the morning. Amen and Amen! Have to share this,” another added.
Harris opened up about his wife’s death in a powerful article for The Players Tribune. He was in Austin when he got the message: his wife, Ashley, had stopped breathing. He immediately jumped onto a plane home. “I ran out onto the tarmac, and as I reached the jet, I dropped to my knees and asked God to let his will be done in my life,” he wrote. “I knew that something was about to change. I could just feel it. I just didn’t know what or how.”
After Ashley’s death, Harris through a tough process of grief and healing – he also had to get used to looking after the kids. “For weeks after Ashley’s death, I was in a daze. Not only was I coming to grips with losing my wife, but I was also learning how to be a full-time parent. I had to be patient, which wasn’t my strong suit. I had to develop a level of compassion I had never known,” he wrote.
Despite a venture back into the game that he loves, Harris realized that he had to give up his football career and focus on his kids. He remembered the promise he made to his wife just before she died – that he would take excellent care of their children.
“I had something like $25 million in the bank when I lost Ashley, and not one dollar had been able to help her. If it could have, I would have given every last cent to save my wife,” Harris wrote.
“Then I realized that even though I had left my kids with the nanny and I knew that they were in good hands, they still weren’t in my hands. And that’s where I promised Ashley they would always be. Rather than go back to playing football — for money, for me, for whatever — I decided it was time to hang it up. For my kids. For Ashley.”
“Today, I’m not the man Ashley married. I’m a much better version of that man — one I wish she was here to see,” Harris concluded. “But I know that she is here. Every day. Watching over me, Tyson and Tinsley. Shining the light that guides us as we do our best to keep her spirit alive and make her proud.”
“We love you, Ashley, and we miss you every day.”