Australians love a sporting hero, and America’s champion swimmer Michael Phelps is the name on everyone’s lips following the Rio Olympics.
Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a career total of 28 Olympic medals from five Olympic Games, with 23 of those being gold.
In the 2016 games, the 31-year-old won five gold medals and one silver.
With this amazing achievement, you might think that Phelps has led a charmed life.
The reality is that this super-athlete has had some dramatic ups and downs.
In 2014, he was arrested on drug charges and, according to thepoliticalinsider.com, he felt his career and life were over, and contemplated ending his life.
Thankfully, someone reached out to Phelps before he acted on those devastating thoughts.
Fellow athlete and NFL legend Ray Lewis gave him Pastor Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life, which addresses one of life’s most basic questions—Why am I here?
Warren’s answer to that question, that life isn’t about you but about finding God and your life purpose in him, proved a revelation to Phelps when he was at rock bottom.
Phelps told US cable network channel ESPN about the effect the book had on him. ‘It turned me into believing there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet.’
As well as giving his friend Warren’s book, Lewis convinced Phelps to enter rehab, telling him that he needed to fight, and that he must not shut down, because then everyone loses.
Phelps followed the advice, which also led to him reconnecting with his estranged father Fred, who had divorced Phelps’ mother when the swimmer was nine years old.
‘I didn’t want to be plagued with “What if?” I didn’t want to go through life without having the chance to share emotions I wanted to share with him, that’s what I missed as a kid,’ Phelps recalled.
Finishing rehab in November 2014, Phelps resumed training for the Rio Olympics, and followed this decision up three months later with another life-affirming one—he became engaged to long-time girlfriend Nicole Johnson. In May 2015, their first child Boomer Robert was born.
The way Ray Lewis reached out to show his friend God’s love had powerful results.
Having reached the pinnacle of Olympic achievement after being plunged into the depths of despair is a remarkable comeback, and Phelps plans to go out on a high and retire.
Right now, he is still trying to believe that he has made Olympic history.
‘How I’m going to wrap my head around a total of 28, I don’t know. You’ve got to pinch yourself every now and again. It’s a dream come true,’ he told today.com.
It seems God was looking out for Michael Phelps at that lowest point in his life, and the rest, as they say, is history.