“I Made You a Fighter”
“I Made You a Fighter”
God had been with me my whole life, in and out of the ring. Could he help me face a devastating diagnosis?
DAVID LYONS

LATE INTO THAT FALL MORNING in 2007, I remained in bed, my body weak with pain and fatigue, my spirit worn-out too.

I was living alone in a townhouse outside Celebration, Florida, my life a shell of what it had been. Sixteen months earlier, in June 2006, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. My marriage ended. My body failed me. Things really fell apart. I needed physical help every day. I was no longer Superman: successful, in amazing shape, strong in every sense of the word.

I couldn’t work anymore as a television producer. The daily pain and fatigue of my MS meant I couldn’t keep up with grueling production schedules. I was trading stocks to make ends meet, but I couldn’t take care of my family the way I used to. MS had also given me a limp. I had to drag my left leg everywhere I went. It was mortifying.

I barely left the townhouse. Not to go to work. Not to see my friends. Not even to go to the gym, as I had done habitually six days a week for years. I’d gone from a self-made millionaire to a depressed, sick recluse.

I lay there and stared at the ceiling. God, is my life over? Really?

I knew firsthand the power God had to give direction to the lost and the broken. Growing up in the Bronx and Queens in the 1960s and 1970s, I was always getting into fights. First in the streets and later as an amateur boxer. I had a lot of anger and a chip on my shoulder the size of a Frisbee. It wasn’t until I was 16 and a girlfriend brought me to Bible study that I gradually came to clarity. There is another way, God seemed to be saying to me. But I wasn’t willing to turn my life over to the Lord until many years later, when I went from an angry rebel to a serious bodybuilder and businessman who owned his own gyms. Working out became a way of life.

It focused me almost like prayer. When I wanted to transition into producing television and film projects, I again leaned on the Lord. I worked hard and signed a deal with a leading sports entertainment marketing company, then with FOX Sports on two sports reality competition shows.

By the time I turned 47, I was proud of the life I’d built. I had three wonderful kids, a thriving career. I was in great shape. I spent time as a youth pastor and gave glory to God, sure, but I had a big ego too. Didn’t I deserve some of the credit?

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May 2020