Tebow visits ‘life-changed’ ex-teammate shot at FL attack
Former professional and college football star Tim Tebow paid a visit to an Orlando, Florida, hospital to encourage his former high school football teammate, Rodney Sumter, who said he is “turning his life over to the Lord” after being shot three times by the jihadist shooter who killed 49 and wounded 53 at The Pulse ‘gay’ nightclub earlier this month.
After receiving three shots from Omar Matten while working as a bartender at the Orlando club, Sumter is recovering at the Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC), where he was elated when his former teammate from Nease High in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, arrived to spiritually encourage him.
Sumter — who has two broken arms from the massacre, according to his Instagram account and the Florida Times-Union — announced the former Heisman Trophy winner’s arrival via social media on Tuesday.
“My high school quarterback left the Bahamas to come and see me,” the shooting victim posted on Instagram, along with a photo taken together with the Christian sports icon — according to the Orlando Sentinel. “Tebow has always been an awesome person.”
Having competed together on Nease High School’s varsity football team, Sumter played for Jacksonville University and then moved to Orlando to work as a dancer and bartender … while Tebow led the Florida Gators to two national championships as quarterback before being drafted by the Denver Broncos to begin his career in the National Football League.
Sumter’s recovery process began moments after he left the bloody scene in the nightclub, when he was met outside the building by Valencia nursing student, Joshua McGill, who helped tend the victim’s wounds before he safely arrived at the ORMC emergency room, according to NBC News.
Besides the picture he had taken with Tebow, Sumter also posted a photo that captured former Major League Baseball star Johnny Damon, Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Orlando City Captain Kaká posing with him. In the photo, the men displayed a #OrlandoUnited shirt that local professional sports teams are selling to raise money for the victims and families affected by the shooting.
Sumter’s spiritual healing appeared to have much to do with Tebow’s faithful Christian testimony on and off the field. The injured bartender announced via social media posts that the star quarterback frequently shared the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 throughout his career — by writing “Phil. 4:13” on his eye black that was consistently visible on game days.
Sumter used his harrowing experience to relay the same message Tebow shared on the gridiron to millions of fans in the stands and on television.
“Still in excruciating pain but, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ — Philippians 4:13,” the recovering Orlando victim posted.
In another post, Sumter expressed his appreciation to all those who have encouraged him through the tragedy.
“I don’t have my phone so I can’t respond to you all through text or Facebook just yet … [b]ut thank you so so so much for the heavy support that I have received,” he wrote. “It definitely hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
Even more importantly, the shooting victim shared with his social media following how the experience has spiritually turned his life upside-down.
“No weapons formed against me shall prosper,” Sumter posted for all to read. “Life-changing experience and I don’t want to do anything but share my testimony and turn my life over to the [L]ord.”