Quarterback CJ Stroud’s rollercoaster life, ‘to hell and back’

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CJ Stroud, the Christian quarterback
CJ Stroud, the Christian quarterback

By Casey Redmond –

His parents divorced. Then his dad, a former pastor, got locked up for 38 years. Thrown on economic hard times, his family lived in a small apartment atop a storage facility and ate insect-infested cereal to get by.

CJ Stroud, a hard-working Christian, aimed for the NFL to provide for his mom and three siblings. Today, he’s poised to become the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl. His team, the Houston Texans, is currently in the second round playoffs.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” CJ posted on Instagram, quoting Psalm 107:1 after beating the Arizona Cardinals.

It hasn’t been an easy road. Born Oct. 3, 2001 in Rancho Cucamonga, California, Coleridge Bernard (we don’t know where “CJ” came from) Stroud IV was the youngest in the family. He learned football from his father, who was a pastor for 20 years after turning his back on a life of crime.

CJ Stroud and his family
CJ Stroud and his mom

By age nine, CJ could throw a 50-yard pass, according to reports.

His dad was always at his games. But one day, Coleridge Bernard Stroud III didn’t show up.

After divorcing in 2015, Dad broke into a woman’s car, robbing and assaulting her. When the police tailed him, he crashed into a pole and jumped into the San Diego Bay from a bridge to escape police, according to reports.

Because he was a repeat offender, Dad was sentenced to 38 years.

“My pops, he was my best friend. To have your best friend snatched like that, it was tough. I just look at the things my dad did that were positive, but for a while, it wasn’t like that. I hated my pops for real. Like man, how could you just leave me like that?”

His coach at the time, Willy Munford, asked CJ where his dad was.

“CJ told me he didn’t want to talk about it. I was going to leave that one alone,” Munford said on a YouTube video. “He played well that year. But he was different. You could tell. He wasn’t playing as well as he was supposed to. He still had the arm. But he went quiet.”

Texans’ quarterback CJ Stroud a good testimony for Jesus.

After Dad’s incarceration, lack of money figured prominently in his daily life. CJ, his three siblings and Mom moved into a small apartment atop a storage facility Rancho Cucamonga, which she managed.

CJ ate cereal with bugs in it and didn’t have money for cleats. He used hand-me-downs.

There was, of course, no way he could hire a personal coach to raise his ability to NFL level, as many aspiring quarterbacks do. So instead, he watched Drew Brees videos on YouTube. The NFL Hall-of-Famer who played for the New Orleans Saints explained proper throwing form and tactics.

When he was running low on contact lenses because of a lack of money, CJ played with one contact lens, using just one eye.

“My life has been like a roller coaster. It’s been up and down. I’ve been through hell and back. I’ve been through so much in my life. I was young. I was a kid when this stuff happened. I had to grow up early. I had to grow up so fast,” CJ said on an NFL interview. “I’m doing this for my mom and my brothers and my sisters – my family at home. Just those things.”

CJ and his family

In his last two years of high school, CJ threw well enough to capture the attention of the University of Georgia, University of Michigan, University of Colorado and Ohio State University.

Representatives of those colleges came to visit his family – at the storage facility.

CJ committed to Ohio State and redshirted under Justin Fields (current quarterback for the Chicago Bears). In his first season as a starter, CJ threw for over 4,400 yards, with 44 touchdowns and 71% completion rate and only six interceptions. CJ placed fourth in the Heisman race in just his first season.

After his second season with Ohio States, CJ decided to go straight to the NFL draft.

In his first 15 games of his first season with the Houston Texans (this season), CJ threw for 4,100 yards (rookie record is 4,300), with a 66% percent completion rate, 23 touchdowns and five interceptions. He became the youngest quarterback to win a playoff game against the Cleveland Browns.

CJ Stroud points to Jesus with his life.
CJ Stroud points to Jesus with his life

CJ tied a record with Baker Mayfield for best touchdown/interception rate in the playoffs with an astounding 3/0.

With the money he got for playing in the NFL, CJ was able to buy a new home for his family, ensuring they would never be financially needy again.

He’s an advocate for prison reform, believing his father was harshly sentenced and should receive mercy because he acted out of grief from the divorce. His cleat says, “Free Pops.”

”When I talk to him now, I don’t hold any ill will. I told him I love him. He’s made his mistakes. I’ve made mine. It’s not about the bad. It’s the nature of the beast. You accept the good with the bad. I thank God for a second chance at this game.”

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here

About the writer of this article: Casey Redmond studies at Lighthouse Christian Academy near Century City of Los Angeles. 

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