MILLEDGEVILLE — Packing the gymnasium on the opening night of the Milledgeville Ebenezer Seventh Day Adventist Church’s series “I Still Have Hope,” people came from all over Central Georgia Friday night to hear professional football player Michael Vick speak at the Walter B. Williams complex.
With a focus on showing people that change is possible, the church brought Vick in to speak about his personal life-altering experiences.
“I drove one hour to come here and speak to you guys on instilling hope and belief,” Vick proclaimed to approximately 3,000 people. “I’m a guy who was given a second chance at life; I know what that second chance feels like.”
Keying off the theme of the series, Vick said that one must have both hope and belief to make a change.
“Now it’s one thing to have a sense of hope, but you’ve also got to have a sense of belief,” he said.
While people of all ages were in the audience on Friday night, Samuel Tutt, of Sparta, believes young people needed to hear Vick’s speech the most.
“It’s good for the young kids,” Tutt said. “It lets them know that you can make a mistake, but when you get a second chance, don’t make a mistake again.”
Like many in the gym on Friday, Tutt himself can attest to Vick’s message and the purpose of I Still Have Hope series.
“In my younger days, I wasn’t law abiding. I went to the training school for boys, and that was my wake-up call,” he said. “I never got in trouble after that, to this day. I believe I got a second chance, but a lot of people don’t get a second chance.”
For students like Shelton Graves, of Baldwin High, Vick’s story is clear.
“It makes me want to make better decisions, be smart, and I just don’t want to mess it up like he did,” Graves said.
South Cobb High student, Kadajah Warthen, said, “I want to take what he’s saying, so I won’t make the same mistakes.”
In a very calm, yet serious tone, Vick said, “If I could do my life over, if I could turn back the hands of time and do things differently, I probably would change a lot of things that has happened in my life.”
While the former National Football League Pro Bowl quarterback has made mistakes in his famed career, Vick said it was mostly due to a lack of self-belief.
He left with a message to everyone who has ever experienced a feeling of self-doubt: “Always believe in yourself. When you stop believing in yourself is when you’ll fall.”
See additional photos and video footage below.