Balling It Up with Donovan Carter

Many athletes dream of going to play in the NFL. Donovan Carter was a standout defensive lineman with a full-ride scholarship at UCLA. He aspired to play professionally. When his dreams didn’t materialize, Carter turned to acting. His first big audition landed him the role of NFL defensive tackle Vernon Littlefield in the HBO series Ballers. It’s about a former football superstar played by Dwayne Johnson, who is now trying to find the same success as a financial manager for players in Miami. Risen interviewed Carter in 2016 and talked with him about how his faith has impacted his life and how he views social media.


Carter opens up about how he took a different path than the one he initially set out on and how his faith plays a role in his life.


“I am a firm believer in having no regrets and working hard. I wasn’t big into high school when I was younger so college was never even on my radar. My parents weren’t married so I moved around a lot. I went to so many different elementary schools and sports was really the only constant. Fortunately, I had to keep my grades up in order to be eligible for football. I definitely would not be where I am at now if I didn’t go to UCLA. The education I got and the mentorship from the coaches has been so valuable. It’s important to remember to go after your dreams. Go after your passion. Identify something you love, that you would do for free even, and then pursue it. You don’t need a ton of experience and you can always learn…God is everything to me. ‘For we walk by faith not by sight.’ [2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV] I really had to take a step of faith to go into acting. I had a lot to learn and when I didn’t know what was going to be next in my life, I just had to trust God would open up an opportunity after football. Faith is a big part of my life.”


“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16


Carter shares his viewpoint on social media and how he believes it is an opportunity to impact others.


“I’m very aware of the impact of social media. Even right from the beginning when I got to UCLA, the coaches sat us down and talked about paying attention to what we put online. Whether I choose to be a role model or not, I know there may be kids and other fans looking at me, watching me and observing what I do and what I say. I am very conscious of the image I am putting out there. For example, if I am somewhere and a photograph is being taken, I choose to put my drink down first so it doesn’t give off the appearance that alcohol and parties are a priority. I know I indirectly represent the show, UCLA and my family, but it is a mixture because I also want to make sure my [platforms] are a true reflection of me as well.”


Risen Reflections

Take a step of faith. You might be deciding what to do after you graduate from college. It might be changing your career or maybe even starting a ministry. Whatever it is, take time this week to seek God for direction. Sometimes, it can be helpful to step away for a day or a weekend, turn off the phone and computer or any other distractions. Bring your Bible with you, a journal and take time to pray about what God might be challenging you to. It can also help to seek wisdom from others. Ask your small group leader, pastor or someone that has gone through a similar circumstance if they would be willing to help you process and pray with you about your decision.


Use your platform wisely. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Youtube or Snapchat, there are many ways that we can share our lives and opinions with others. Each of our posts not only affects us individually, but can often affect our families, careers and ministry that we might have. Think about what you are posting and ultimately, how you are living. God wants each of us to live a life worthy of Him and that is a reflection of Christ. Ask a close friend or small group leader to give you some feedback on your social media and if what you are doing reflects Christ. If there is an area that needs to change, ask them to hold you accountable.


Live a life of no regrets. Each of us is surrounded by people that do not know Christ. We have an opportunity each day to share Christ with those around us. While it may be difficult initially to start up a spiritual conversation, the end result can often be rewarding. Take time this week to pray for some of the friends and family members that you have that don’t know Christ. Ask God to show you tangible ways that you can be a witness to them and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your conversation. It might mean sharing what God is teaching you, how you became a Christian, or asking them a spiritual question. Pray that God would soften their heart to be open to the Gospel.


To read more interviews like this one with Donovan Carter, subscribe to Risen Magazine.

Click here to read Donovan’s story in Risen Magazine

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