Growing up in impoverished circumstances, Jordan Pollard, a sophomore studying social work, said he relied on his participation in sports to protect himself from drugs, gang activity and immorality.

Pollard said being raised in a broken home environment in the neighborhood of Stop Six, Fort Worth, Texas, motivated him to seek stability and purpose in life.

“My mom was the typical single mom in a poor area, just trying to make ends meet,” Pollard said. “At that time, you don’t really have boundaries or structures or rules, or anything. Sports was a good pathway to keep me straight. It allowed me to be a part of a family; it allowed me to be a part of a group like a brotherhood that cared for you.”

Pollard said being a part of a sports team, including playing for the Dunbar High School basketball team in Forth Worth, gave him stability and direction in life. He said the positive influence of sports was his way of finding relief for troubles at home.

“My teammates were like my brothers, and my coach was like a father to me,” he said. “They were the ones that told me to keep up my grades, go home at the right time and don’t do drugs. I didn’t have that at home.”

With basketball, Pollard said his time and energy was focused on uniting as a team and a brotherhood.

“There’s a lot of time, practice and commitment that you put into sports, and because of that, it keeps you from making bad decisions and ultimately bad behaviors,” Pollard said.

Pollard said bad behavior was evident in his family. He said his brothers, who were not active in playing sports, were on the streets, in gangs and     doing drugs.

Pollard said he credits playing basketball for keeping him grounded and away from negative influences.

“Out of my brothers and sisters, I’m the only one that has graduated high school, the only one that’s been to college and I’m the only one that hasn’t done drugs,” he said.

Pollard said the lessons and skills he learned from playing sports ultimately led him to develop a deeper understanding of his purpose in life.

“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from sports is that you get what you put in,” Pollard said. “If you put in the time and the effort, you will see the results.”

Pollard said he found results from being an athlete, not just in a game, but outside of it as well. After realizing he would not become a professional athlete, he said he relied on his faith in God to further nurture his purpose in life.

“When I realized I didn’t have sports anymore, when I realized it wasn’t always going to be a part of my life, then I developed a relationship with God,” Pollard said. “God replaced sports. I knew that God was always going to be there for me.”

Pollard said he was able to transition from a disciple on the basketball court to a disciple of God in the mission field, using the skills that helped him to stay on a straight and narrow path throughout his life to bless     others’ lives in the California Long Beach Mission.

“Team sports was all about relying on other people,” Pollard said. “You didn’t do it by yourself; you couldn’t do it by yourself. On my mission, I learned that completely. You have to have the Spirit. You have to have your companion. You aren’t going to see peoples’ lives change without the Holy Ghost.”

Reflecting on his life, Pollard said he knows that it was his involvement in sports that gave him the necessary skills to happily succeed.

“Being a part of a sport will help you to develop the qualities and attributes that you need to be a part of any family or organization,” Pollard said. “That family is what life is about. We talk so much about families; my first family was my team.”