Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) --- Former University of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore gained national notoriety with his play on the field. Now, as he comes back from another season-ending knee injury, Lattimore is inspiring others by his actions off the field.
Marcus Lattimore said he will remember October 29th, 2012 for the rest of his life. The Gamecocks were hosting The University of Tennessee in what seemed like just another football game on the schedule. And for the most part it was. That is, until a Volunteer defender hit Lattimore on his right knee and changed his life forever.
"He hit me directly on my right knee and I knew something was wrong," Lattimore recalled. "It didn't hurt because I was in shock, but I knew something was wrong."
Lattimore tore several ligaments in his right knee. The injury would not only end his 2012 season...it would be the final play of his career at the University of South Carolina. This would be the second season-ending injury for Lattimore. He suffered a knee injury in 2011 that also cut his season short.
"I'm about to be a first round pick. I thought 'No way is this about to happen again,'" he remembered.
But it did happen again. He was told by doctors that he would be able to play football again but an extensive recovery process awaited him. From that moment, Lattimore saw that as another proverbial tackle for him to break.
In the following months, Lattimore declared for the NFL Draft while strengthening his right knee. Throughout the rehabilitation process, Lattimore said his faith in God is what pushed him through the tough times.
"One of my good friends come over [to my apartment], Dylan Thompson the quarterback, and he told me 'God doesn't make mistakes,'" he shared. "He just reminded me 'Just keep your faith and you're going to be alright. It's all in God's plan.'"
While he has been preparing for April's draft and following the NFL Combine in February, Lattimore has found time to share with others just how his faith has motivated him. He stopped by First Presbyterian Church in Orangeburg, SC to share his story.
Gamecocks fans, some decked out in No. 21 jerseys, posed for pictures and received autographs from South Carolina's all-time leader in touchdowns. The event was put on by The Bomber-Calhoun-Orangeburg Tri-County Fellowship of Christian Athletes. FCA board member Earl Humes was excited about the lessons those in the attendance could learn from the 2009 Mr. Football award winner in South Carolina.
"What they're going to learn from Marcus is you're going to get knocked down but you don't have to stay down," Humes said. "If you can visualize success, you can make it happen."
Lattimore captivated the hundreds in attendance. He flashed his engaging smile and left the crowd with some very powerful words as he closed his speech.
" I'm so blessed. I take nothing for granted now," he shared. "What's your purpose in life? What are you living for? And if you don't believe in Christ, you will after this comeback."