The United States soccer team captain Clint Dempsey credits his favorite sport for deepening his faith in God, according to Sports Spectrum.
In his childhood, Dempsey played soccer every week and attended Catholic mass on the weekends.
However, when his older sister Jennifer died from a brain aneurysm, 12-year-old Dempsey lost faith in God's role in his life, wrote reporter Brett Honeycutt.
"For a number of years, I struggled and put distance between God and me. But He was faithful and patient and provided gradual healing and strength,” Dempsey said in the Sports Spectrum article.
Once the soccer sensation went to college, he understood what it meant to actively seek God, and he joined a Bible study group.
"Now my faith in Christ is what gives me confidence for the future,” Dempsey said in Sports Spectrum. “I know that through both good times and bad, He is faithful and will watch over me.”
Thirty seconds into the U.S. vs. Ghana World Cup match, Dempsey scored a goal. While the fans cheered, Dempsey held up two fingers toward the sky, one for his sister and one for his best friend Victor Rivera Jr., who accidentally shot himself in the head, according to the Daily Mail.
Dempsey told the Daily Mail that he and Jennifer had talked about death before she died, and she promised him that if she ever died, she'd help him get the ball into the net.
"And that's why I look up to the sky now when I score — to remember her," Dempsey said.
According to the Daily Mail, Dempsey continues to put his family before himself.
When he won the Honda Player of the Year in 2006, he gave the truck to his father and when his sister Crystal got married in 2011, he told his coach he was going to the wedding regardless of the consequences.
Dempsey plays for the Seattle Sounders FC. He debuted with the U.S. team in the World Cup in 2006.
“Today, I pray for strength to walk the road before me,” Dempsey told Sports Spectrum. “I play to the best of my abilities and am thankful for the many opportunities and amazing success He has given me. Through it all, I want to do right, not make mistakes, and live a life that is pleasing to Him."
The U.S. lost 0-1 to Germany on June 26 but will continue playing in the World Cup.
Megan Marsden Christensen writes for the Faith and Family sections. She recently graduated from BYU-Idaho with a bachelor's degree in communication.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company