Mormon church helps former NFL player sort out spiritual puzzle

Published: Thursday, Nov. 4 2010 6:30 a.m. MDT

"He is a humble, kind and gentle person, anxious to share the gospel with everyone," Bishop Stark said. "He has a testimony of the gospel that is rock solid. He has prepared for this all his life."

Miles continues to fight cancer and doesn't sleep much these days because of the pain in his body. He also stays in close contact with his buddy Ken Lester. Each Sunday night at precisely 8 p.m., Miles and members of the Lester family from around the country dial into a conference call and hold a weekly family meeting. They have a song, a prayer and make goals for reading scriptures and performing service. They also have a friendly contest where everyone predicts the winners of college and NFL games. Whoever predicts the most games at the end of the season gets his or her name engraved on a trophy. These calls can last anywhere from 45 minutes to more than an hour and are a major highlight of Miles' week. He is honored to be included as a member of the family.

Although they come from different backgrounds, sizes, shapes and circumstances, Lester and Miles consider one another as family.

"You would never pick us from a crowd and say we are brothers, but we were meant to be brothers," Lester said. "He is struggling with his health, spending a lot of time in the hospital. We hurt to know he is suffering. We don't know how long he will live, but he has a magnificent, powerful spirit. Heavenly Father is looking out for him."

Like a true warrior, Miles bears his burdens with little complaint. Despite discouragement, Lester says Miles copes by serving others. He once sponsored an Akron walk-a-thon and participated in a community fair for children. One of Miles' favorite activities is visiting with sick children in the hospital. In his eyes, being a member of the church is like opening new Christmas presents every day.

"It's hard to see what I used to be and see what I am now," Miles said. "I gave a talk in church once about consecrating affliction for your gain. That is what Heavenly Father is doing for me.

"I try to never not have a smile, never get down. I will walk again someday without crutches. Heavenly Father has something in store for me."

e-mail: ttoone@desnews.com

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