If you love sports like I do, and you live for second chances as most do, and if you’re sick of fake and false and phony living, like those hungering and thirsting for what’s right do, then the Netflix original documentary series “Last Chance U” is for you. But get ready, because it’s real, it’s raw, and it’s redemptive.
Coach Buddy Stephens and the East Mississippi Community College Lions Football Team are featured in this award-winning documentary in which they are followed for two consecutive seasons. They are dominant on the field but also tend to be self-destructive off it. It’s must see TV that you will use as fuel for the fire of life when you or someone you know needs a boost or a bolster or just a run of the mill shot in the arm.
Coach Stephens is hard-nosed and sometimes hardheaded. He’s harsh, headstrong, willful, and obstinate, just like many of his players. But the truth is, it takes one to know one. Many of his star athletes fell from grace at larger, D-1 schools, and playing at East Mississippi State Community College is their last chance and their only ticket out and on and up towards the dream of playing in the NFL. But they won’t make it if they don’t listen and learn some hard life lessons.
That’s why I believe sharing the Christian faith should be easy. We have all fallen short, we all need a second chance at living and at life and at a lifestyle that’s pleasing to God.We all need to learn how to overcome and comeback after being held back. And sometimes, albeit most times, we are the ones who have used our own arms to hold our own selves back from success.
I love Coach Stephens. I do. I love how he knows that these mostly minority young men that he coaches need a heavy dose of truth-or-consequences, because the school of hard knocks can be unforgiving and unmerciful. But Coach Stephens has also looked himself in the mirror and knows that after a failure he and his players must pick themselves up and dust themselves off if they are to have a chance at succeeding at “Last Chance U”.
And I love the heart and the spirit of the Athletic Academic Advisor, Brittany Wagner. Some might say that she’s just a pretty face but she’s doing a gritty job of guiding these student athletes off of the field when all they want to do is to play on it. But they also need to graduate, and her love and concern for her students shines through.
I’d love to put my new book, Upsets, Comebacks Turnarounds in the hands of Coach Stephens and in the hands of his staff and his student athletes. Last Chance U is a mirror of the book because his story and the stories of many of those he’s coached over the years are just like the stories from the Bible; they’re worth being told, over and over again.