Ben Malcolmson: "From Pee Wee Dropout to the NFL Sideline" | Talks at Google
Thank. You. Thanks. Well thank. You all so much for for. Being here today I know this is precious time for for, everyone so I really cherish. This opportunity to be with you all I'm. Excited to share a story with you guys today that's hopefully going to inspire you encourage, you and really, leave you in awe, that you do have an amazing purpose wherever. You're at that, you have an incredible, purpose right, where you're at and so, I'm gonna show this story and there's something unique about a story, when. Someone says, that there's a story out there for you it kind of resonates with you in a different way than when you hear truth or facts. Or a date or something like that when you hear a story. Stories. Stick with you in a very unique way and so, this story I hope will kind of echo in your heart as you leave from here today and make, you think and, really consider that you truly do have an incredible purpose right. Where you're at I'm. Gonna take you back a few years I was a student, at USC University, Southern California, down in Los Angeles don't. Worry my parents didn't help me get in so. My. Parents aren't celebrities, so I think. I got in on my own merit but I was a student there just trying to find my way and trying to figure out what I was gonna do in. My career we have to graduate and I stumbled into journalism I wanted to be a sports, writer and and write. About sports I had loved watching ESPN as a kid and reading the sports section of the newspaper and Sports Illustrated so, I figured why, don't I go be a sports reporter I kind of combined my passions, and do something I'm really excited about, so, my first assignment, and being a journalism major it was to write for the school newspaper the daily Trojan, and so. I go to the daily Trojan and they assigned me to cover women's volleyball and my first assignment I had, never seen a women's volleyball match in my life so here I am on Wikipedia, trying to learn the scoring system I mean I was struggling I was really, fighting, to keep my head above water here, it, was a fish out of water totally, and a couple. Weeks into this volleyball assignment. For the school newspaper the editor says hey we have an opening on the football beat would, you like to cover the football team before. You could even finish asking, the question I was like yes count me in let's go because. I actually knew what football was I actually had watched a football game before in my life and actually you how to keep track of football scores and all that so. Here I am I go and start covering the football team at USC and this is right at the start of their run for the next three years they went to three straight national championship, games they. Won 34, consecutive games, they, went on this unprecedented, run, in college football in the mid-2000s, and I, got to cover the team for those three years I got to go to all three of those national championship, games I got to go to two Heisman Trophy ceremonies, I got, to go to every single home and away football game has, my job in college now, many of you who went. To college you probably had some pretty crazy, jobs in college a lot, of my friends had some pretty funky jobs like. Janitor, in the middle of the night in the dorms or like working in the IT department middle. Of the night you know keeping stuff running I got. To have an incredible, job of covering, a football team the number one team in the country every. Home in a way game travel. All that stuff and this was what I was getting paid to do as a college student when I was living a dream this was unbelievable and, so.
I Was gearing up to graduate three years later and I lived, this amazing. Journey and I wanted to write one final good story about the football team before I left and so. I'm searching. Around digging around trying to find one final good story for this. Student, newspaper and I see, a little, alert that comes up that says walk-on tryouts for the football team are coming up and. So walk-ons. Are the end of the bench guys they don't get scholarships, to play in college so, they're paying their own way to be there they. Don't get newspaper articles, written about them they're never on SportsCenter, they're. Kind of the unheralded. Guys and, so I was like why don't I write an article about these guys do. Something that hadn't really been done before and so. I start, interviewing some guys that are gonna go through this tryout and it's kind of an open casting call any student, at USC can try out for the team and so. Here I am interviewing some guys are gonna go through this and in this, process it hits me well why don't I go through the tryout myself, really, bring people on the inside show, people a first-person, perspective how, hard this is to. Go through the tryout for the number one college football team in the country now. Before, I go any further I do have to be honest with you guys not. Only as I mentioned was a student newspaper reporter I was really skinny at 165, pounds but on top of that the, last time I played football was in fifth grade so. It had been more than ten years since I played football and here I was going through the tryout. For the number-one college football team in the country so, this is gonna be a total joke, I mean hero a student, newspaper reporter, going. Through the tryout for the best team in the country having, not played football since fifth grade I could, go through this tryout show how hard it is and really. Just make fun of myself and. It would just be a total joke of an article so. I go through the tryout and I'm. Really. Just soaking it all up this was gonna be the story of a lifetime I get home that night and I mean, I hit a gold mine this was the coolest story I could have ever imagined, I got to try out for this football team there's, Pete Carroll who was head coach of USC at the time yelling. At me during the tryout and running 40-yard, dash for the first time in my life I mean this was so cool and I'm bringing all the readers on the inside this is such an amazing opportunity and so. I go, home I start writing my story and I was so excited to put this together and the next morning I get a phone call saying hey isn't spending malcomson I was, like yeah this has been and the lady on the on the other line goes well you made the football team now. I laughed. At first too because this. Had to be a joke there's no way I mean there were 40 guys at the tryout 39, of them were, trying, their. Hearts, out to make this football team there was one guy there me not, trying to make the team I had no intention, of ever making this team because my, sole intention in being there was to write a really cool article and I, achieved that at this point I was happy so. I get this phone call and I'm, just in shock I laugh at the lady and she's like no no I'm serious, you're on the team and. I'm like no there's no way this can't be true she's like your names on the list you got to come in and check in so. I hop on my bike I start pedaling as fast as I can over the football building, just to make sure this is legit and actually check in to this football team, and. I walk up to the football building and it hits me there in that moment that Coach Carroll he, was head coach of USC at the time he's renowned for pulling pranks when. You go on YouTube right now and type in Pete Carril prank, I mean don't do it right now cuz we're talking but after, this type in Pete Carril prank on YouTube and you'll get a dozen pranks that'll show up he's a kid at heart he's a jokester so. It hits me that I'm gonna be the butt end of his latest prank I mean what better target, than the 21 year old student, newspaper reporter, who, had just gone through a tryout I mean of course I'm gonna be the butt end of his latest prank so, now here I am talking myself into.
Okay, I'm about to get the rug pulled out from under me I'm gonna walk up to the football office there's gonna be Pete Carril Will, Ferrell, and Snoop Dogg and they're all gonna point and laugh at me and Here, I am oh man I'm fully, ready for this to happen I walk, up to the office the football office there and there's Pete Carril big, old grin on his face he's like hey, Ben and I was like hey coach, jokes over nice one nice prank and he's like no no I'm, serious, you can catch the ball you can run fast we want you on the team are. You in. There. In that moment I was like okay maybe this isn't a joke this, is maybe this is serious but here, this is the best college football coach at the time telling, me who hadn't played football in ten years that. I could maybe, play football this is crazy, he's, like are you in and. I, was like of course I'm in let's go so, there in that moment I go from a student newspaper reporter, it's, all of a sudden being a wide receiver on the number one college football team in the country this. Is crazy, I could have never dreamed of something like this so. Here in this moment my life takes a total turn and, they go and hand me a playbook and I mean I played video. Games Madden, football and stuff like that but this playbook was not nothing like that at all this playbook was like learning a new language I go, get handed my helmet my pads I didn't, know which was front and back on my pads I mean I was so embarrassed this, is the biggest joke I'm just. Losing. Myself here I don't know what was going on so. Then I'm out of practice I mean I'm getting my head beat I'm getting, crushed I'm like a tackling, dummy out there I mean I'm like fresh meat for these guys Here I am a small little kid out, there basically and I hadn't played football in ten years I'm just getting the level of left and right I'm. Starting to get the hang of it it took a couple weeks starting to gain some weight I went to talk about a lot late at night started gaining some weight and, was. Lifting, a lot of weight and all that and starting, to learn the playbook and I'm starting to actually feel, and look a little bit more like a football player a little by little day after day and. About a month into spring practice, I'm not blocking on a play and I get my arm caught, in a guy's pad and we, get we roll over and this freak injury I'm lying there on the field my shoulders dislocated and, the. Doctors rushed out they sent me the hospital they're on campus and they say you need an emergency reconstructive. Surgery on your shoulder because, your shoulders just destroyed, so. They're in the span of a month I go from a student newspaper reporter, who would, typing, - all of a sudden being on the football field getting. Beaten left and right and now here I am I have to get emergency reconstructive. Surgery on my shoulder so. My dream that I'd started to live into and started to take hold of this newfound, new, life that I had this new dream that was all exciting, it's, all of a sudden gets ripped from my hands I was crushed I was so discouraged and devastated, and maybe you've been in a situation like that to where you feel like man. I'm on to something here I'm, on to something really cool and really exciting, and, all of a sudden gets taken from me so. I just decided was going to devote myself to, the. Rehab process the doctor said I was gonna be out for nine months but. Maybe I could get back quicker, maybe I could get back to just a little bit faster than nine months I just. Poured, myself into this rehab process and just tried to get back a little bit faster four. And a half months later I'm with. The doctors, and they say we can't believe this is happening but you're, actually a hundred percent healthy you're. Able to return to the football field half. The time the doctor said there I was all of a sudden back, to. Practicing, this, was a miracle I there's. No way this could have happened other than it was just a miracle, healing I was so amazed so. There I am back to practicing, that fall suiting. Up for practice and then for home games I get to dress out in the uniform, and run out of the tunnel at the LA Coliseum ninety-two, thousand people this, was incredible. I was it was just literally living a dream and, I, was content just doing that but, I was alone in that thought because there was a group of students, that wanted, to see me get into a game so they started a campaign called get Ben in and. They wanted to see just the guy who represented, the average student not the huge, muscled, up football player but just, the normal student get into a game for this number, one team and so.
They Started this campaign they made t-shirts they, made posters, they, started chants in the student section get, Ben in and. We make it to the last home game of the year I hadn't played yet and it's. Number six Notre Dame versus number three USC, at the LA Coliseum ninety-two, thousand people yeah. So that story in and of itself I mean we could walk out of here and be like oh wow it was really cool story it's really cute kind. Of inspires Uniqlo. Football story but the, best, part about that story is what God was doing behind the scenes what. I mentioned at the beginning that this sense of purpose that, we all have and when, I made that team I had this deep, overwhelming, sense that, God had put me on that team for a reason that. I was there for a purpose and so. I was pressing into that from day one and I couldn't wait to see why. I was on that team because, if, there, would needed to be another football player on that team there are a lot of other. Stronger. Faster bigger. Guys than me but I was, picked for that team and I felt like I had a divine. Reason on that team so. I was precedented I couldn't wait to see why, I was on that team and a month. Or so into being on the team I get this nudge on my heart that I need a sort of Bible say for the team like, many of you are in here probably, involved. In some kind of fellowship here at Google and someone. At some point felt, this nudge to start it here and. That's the nudge I felt and I was like okay there's no Bible City I'm gonna start this viola city and made, fliers pass small tournament all my teammates told, all the guys on the team and got a Bible study lesson ready and the room, got ready and time. Comes for our first Bible study and I'm sitting there all alone, no. One showed up. So. I'm discouraged I'm, defeated, I'm sitting, here questioning, why. Am I on this team what is my purpose and being here because. If, I had a purpose then you think at least one other person will show up. So. Then I'm wrestling. With this discouragement. And this doubt and, about a month or so later I get another nudge on my heart they, start prayer group for the team will. Gather together we'll pray together as a, bunch of believers on the team and the, time will come and it'll be it'll be awesome we'll pray together we'll encourage one another and so, be great so. I made flyers a pass small talk all my teammates got. A room ready and the time comes for our first prayer meeting as a team and, you. Guessed it no one showed up so. Now here I am twice's defeated, twice as discouraged, and, questioning. My purpose even more why. Am I here, why. Am I on this team and, maybe. You resonate with that maybe you're wrestling, with something like that right now in your workplace at. Home, with, it with some friends that you have maybe you're wrestling with this discouragement. Of man I feel like I have a purpose but sometimes. I just don't see it I, was. In that spot and it's, hard as. Many. Of you if not most of you if not all of you can relate with, it's. Really hard so. I'm wrestling, with this discouragement. And it takes me a little while to get through that and a month. Or two later I get another idea on my heart I just read in the book of Matthew chapter 5 and it says let your light shine before men and, it.
Hits Me in that moment that lights just, shine, before. They go create events before they go do anything lights, first, and foremost just shine where they're at and so. I just needed to be a light I was so focused on creating, something doing something that, I lost track of the fact that I just needed to be a light just be a positive, uplifting. Loving. Person to the people around me so, I devoted myself to that I'm gonna be a light this is gonna be awesome and now, I'm gonna see the fruit of my labor in this way so. I pour myself into this and weeks. And weeks maybe, a month or two go by and once. Again I'm not seeing any results, once. Again I'm discouraged. Defeated. And questioning, what is my purpose on this team because if. I had a purpose you'd think I would see it and I'm just not seeing it so. At this point we're almost at the end of the season we. Get chosen to play in the Rose Bowl which, is on New Year's Day and a, few weeks before the Rose Bowl I was reading in the book of Isaiah chapter 55, it says if his word goes out it will not return empty and, so. I knew that God is always faithful to his promise, I knew that he's always true to his word and that if I put his word out there, if. I put his literal word out there it will not return empty and so. I got this idea I'm gonna get a Bible for every one of my teammates I'm. Gonna pass one out to every one of my teammates and God's gonna be faithful to his word that. If I put his word out there it's not gonna return em to you that it will achieve a purpose so. I was so excited I called my grandfather he works for this organization called the Gideon's they're, the ones that pass out free Bibles and hotels and you open up the the drawer in hotel room and there's a Gideon Bible right there and so, I called him up shared my idea and I, was like what do you think he's like I'll send you a hundred Bibles so, week. Or two later I get 100, Bibles delivered to my doorstep, and. I wanted to make, it kind of an anonymous Christmas gift it was right before Christmas and I figured I was, tired to being the guy that was out there trying. To make an impact trying to find my purpose and everything. Failing so this one I'm going to do complete, under the radar I'm, gonna be totally, anonymous on this one and so, I typed up a little red note said a Christmas gift for you the, greatest present, you will ever receive Jesus, Christ Merry. Christmas now. I stuck one of these red notes in every Bible and at 11 o'clock at night on Christmas Eve I went, into the locker room and I. Placed one Bible and every locker I didn't. Want anyone to know that it was me doing this so I waited.
Till As late at night as possible, I didn't even want the janitor, to know that was me doing this and so, I'm placing one in every Locker and in this process, I had this overwhelming. Sense that, this was my purpose, sure. I thought the prayer group was my purpose sure I thought the Bible say it was my purpose sure I thought trying to be a light was my purpose but all. Those things that failed and this. Is, why I was there placing. A Bible and every one of my teammates Locker so. We had Christmas Day Off and we get back on the 26th, of December for. Our first, day back of our last week together before. The game on January 1st our, last game of the season I was a senior this is my last chance and so, I knew that this was my purpose being on this team I was, running out of time this had to be it and so. I'm walking over the football building that morning on the 26, fully expecting, just. The greatest of things that happened I mean I was a zealous, 21 year old I was so excited to see what God was gonna do through this and I'm. Walking up just expecting, like the Hallelujah Chorus to be sung from the locker room like gold light to be emanating, from the locker room doors I mean I was fully expecting just. The the craziest, of things to happen and, I, pull the door to the locker room and I pull it open. There. Were Bibles just thrown all over the floor. Shredded. Everywhere all you could see were just shredded, pages of Bible all. Over the floor you couldn't even see the carpet, I. Was. Absolutely. Crushed, my. Discouragement, went to a new low I was. Completely. Devastated here. I'd tried to find my purpose through, the Bible study through the prayer group through being a light now, through these Bibles and I had failed not. Just again, but I had failed miserably this, time. So. You can imagine my disappointment my, discouragement. We. Go through that that week leading up to the Rose Bowl and I just had this on my heart that I had missed my purpose in being on that team we. Play in the Rose Bowl we go, home after the game and I get a phone call a few days after the game saying hey jeer about Mario now. Mario is our kicker on the team record-setting, kicker he. Just finished his junior year he had one more year left in college I was, like no what happened to Mario and, my. Friend, my teammate on the other line goes oh no you didn't hear, Mario. Died last night. 21. Years old he had mysteriously. Passed. Away just a few days after our last game together. So. Now not only was I dealing with this discouragement. Of trying, and failing to find my purpose but now I'm dealing with this grief, at. 21 years old losing a friend, one of my closest friends one, of my teammates, same. Age as me 21 this is heartbreaking. And I didn't even know how to fathom. It I didn't even know how to process this we. Go to his funeral as a team a few days later and I'm sitting right on the aisle and they carry his casket down the center aisle and I look up right as the casket passes, by. And. On top of the casket, was. This. Bible, what. The red note sticking out of it just. Resting right on top of the, casket and, I. Had no idea what it meant at the time but it just felt like it was God's personal. Comforting, touch for me just. To say like I see I saw, you all along and it, gave me a men's comfort, it, was just such, an incredible moment that, I had with God in that moment, so. Then I ended up a few months later after working through that grief and all that stuff I ended, up starting to work at USC, for coach Pete Carroll there he was the head coach at the time and three. Years later he took, the job with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, asked, me to follow him up here and I've, moved up not knowing anyone and for, those of you that have moved, either. For job or whatnot and you move and you, you don't know anyone there and it's so hard it's so challenging and you're how do you make friends it's just like the most challenging, thing ever so like, I was like desperate, to make friends, I'd say, hi to someone in the grocery store and I'm like oh maybe they'll be my friend you know like maybe, the person behind me in Starbucks, maybe, they'll buy my coffee maybe we can have a conversation today, me like I was just so desperate so lonely, to make friends so, I come across this one guy who's a really, outgoing guy and he starts telling me about this called young life young. Life is a high school mentorship, program that's got. A big footprint here in the Seattle area and he starts telling about this and that they need volunteer leaders and, I was like whatever it is I'm in because I need something to do with my time so.
I Show up at this young life informational. Leader meeting and I'm. Just trying to learn what this whole organization. Is and as, I'm sitting there a former, teammate of mine walks to the door his. Name was Taylor he was our punter on the team now. I hadn't seen him in four. Years the. Last time I saw him was at Mario's funeral, four years earlier a thousand, miles from where we were at this point we're. Outside Seattle this is crazy. What are we both, doing in this spot so we remove ourselves from this meeting we're catching up and he's. Like dude my life has totally turned around the last few years I was, like well what happened. He's. Like do you member the last week we were on the team together there were Bibles and all of our lockers. Now. I hadn't thought about these. Bibles, in years, because. These Bibles with the red note sticking out of it they symbolize discouragement. They symbolize defeat, and ultimately. They symbolize the death of a friend and a teammate of mine so. When he said that my initial reaction was just play dumb so, I go yeah, I don't know I kind, of remember those I don't really know I don't really know I you, know what what about those Bibles and so. He starts to tell me that he grew up in a Christian home he grew up going to church, when. He went to college he decided to leave, the faith and kind of live life on his own terms and do. Things the, way he wanted to do it and so. He's going about his daily, life in college and for four years does. His own thing so. When he sees a Bible in his locker that morning, his last week on the team, he's. Kind of confused, and he's also a little annoyed like what does this Bible do in here I don't really I don't really need this right now he throws it in the back of his locker. He's. Gonna go out to the practice field that day and he's thinking is he's the last one to leave the locker room and. He's pushing the door to go out to the field and he, hears a voice in the back corner of the locker room going what is this and. So he was confused because he thought he was last one in there and he turns around and, there's. Mario our, kicker. Sitting. In his locker thumbing, through the Bible going what is this and. So. Taylor tells. Me that he, turns around and he screams across the locker mário have you never seen a Bible before I, was. Like what am I supposed to do with this thing. Taylor. And Mario they were best friends they were the punter and the kicker they spent all their time together and so Taylor for some reason. Sets. Down his helmet his pads there at the doorstep, turns. Around walks. Back and sits down next to Mario and for. 45 minutes takes him through the Bible. Every. Word and in read of the words of Jesus Christ the, Son of God the, savior of the world the one who can to die to take on your sins to make you right with God. They. Missed half a practice that day, Taylor. Said for the rest of that week, Mario, couldn't put the Bible down, he. Couldn't get enough he was asking questions he was just constantly reading every spare moment he had every bus ride every, few minutes between, meetings, Mario. Couldn't put the Bible down. Taylor. Said just a few days before the game he. And Mario had a conversation where Mario had started, walking with God in a brand new way started. Walking towards God. And. Just the. Final, few days before, the game so. Then Taylor gets the same phone call I did just, a few days later that his, teammate, his friend had died and. In that moment he. Was obviously overcome, with grief but he's also overcome, with.
The Power and the love of, God, that. God would reach Mario, in his, final few days through this random, Bible and there. In that moment, Taylor saw the power and the Grace and the love of God and in. That spot recommitted. His life to Christ and said God you're real you're, good I want, to follow you and. So. Taylor's telling me this story four years later and, he's like yeah my life hasn't been the same since. And. I'm on the verge of tears at this point and I'm like man - that's the craziest story I've ever heard and. It's even crazier because I, was willing to put the Bible's in the locker and. I thought I was a total failure. Gave. Each other a big hug and this. Is our God this. Is the way God wants to work through each and every one of us that God does have an amazing purpose for you no, matter where you're at in life no. Matter what your past looks like no, matter what failures, or mistakes you, think you've made. God, has an incredible, purpose for you. There's. A verse in the back of the Old Testament in the book of Habakkuk chapter, 1, verse 5 it says look at the nations and watch and, be, utterly amazed. For. I am doing something in your days that you would not believe even. If you were told this, is. How God wants to work through each one of us that he wants to do things in our days that we would not believe even. If he told us ahead of time that's. True for me in this story you can see obviously, that if God would have told me ahead of time that. I would try out for the team I would make it I would overcome injury, get back and try to find my purpose everything, would look like a failure a teammate, would die then, four years later a thousand, miles away I'd reconnect, with a teammate and find. Out that, God's purposes, were at work that, God was at work that God did have a purpose for me if, he would have told me all this ahead of time I wouldn't believed in even. Sharing this story today with you guys you prior like wow this is this is unbelievable this story I have, to remind myself every day that this is how good how. Great, our God is that he truly does want to do things in all of our days that we would not believe, even. If we were told. This. Is a story I think about, purpose but it's also a story about nudges, I. Felt. Those nudges along the way, to. Start, a BIOS a start prayer to, be a light to put Bibles in my teammates locker. Mario. That morning felt a nudge. To. Pick up a Bible for, the first time in his life and thumb through it and ask what is this, Taylor. Felt a nudge as he's pushing the door to go out to the field to set, down his pads turn. Around and walk. Back towards, this incredible, purpose that was laid out for him and. Maybe. You're feeling a nudge right now wherever. You're at in your faith journey wherever. You're at in life I have. A feeling that you're feeling a nudge right now, that. God is knocking on the door of your heart to say, I love you I'm, delighted, in you I have, amazing purpose, for you and, so. Look at the nations and watch be. Utterly amazed, for. God is doing something in your days that, you would not believe. Even, if you were told. Listen. To those nudges, and just take the next step because. God is doing something in your days that you would not believe even. If you were told thank. You all so much god bless you. Yeah. That's really really, powerful, thanks for coming and. What. Do you see the Lord doing through you where, you are today you know you're still next to Pete and all these guys who are so. Far, in their career and how, do you see him you, know nudging you and using you where you are today yeah, that's a great question and I, think, what this story has taught me all along is that. We. Often don't see the fruit of our labor in the moment that, like. That story it took me four years later to see what God was doing all, along and so, I feel, that today I still feel discouraged today man like do I have a purpose and the spot that I'm in and so, I'm just trusting and knowing and just hopefully, following the nudge every day that, God is placing me there for a reason and I might not see the, results just like many of you in here maybe you don't see the results right now to.
Why God has you where you're at but. Just to known to trust that God is working and so I feel, that every. Day it's like a wrestle, every day like do. I listen to discouragement, or do I listen. To the truth of God that he does have a purpose and, maybe. Someday, down the road or when we all get to heaven someday we'll. Get to see, what God was doing all along so, thanks to that question, so. When you're the butt of a prank like I, can still see that happening. As I from. What little I know I, know, there's a lot of pranking, and so. What do you suggest is the best mindset, going into a prank. Did. Not take yourself too seriously I, think I think. We a lot, of times we can take ourselves way too serious, but that's. The great thing about coach Carol is that he's always keeping. Things light and fun and I, think. That's what it's all about so that's. A great question yeah and, hopefully the pranks not coming to me I hope he doesn't tell me 12 years later there was all the jokes. Uh. Thank. You for that question. Awesome. Well thank you all so much I appreciate your time and if, that, story impacted, you, the. The book just came out a few months ago and it captures, that story plus many other things and whether. You have a friend who's into sports or a young person who's searching for their purpose or maybe even a friend, or a family member I I, think and I know that this book will reach them in, a really, special way so I hope you get a chance to pick one up thank you thanks. For you thank you. You.