From Prison to Professional BMX Rider Tony Hoffman
Tony Hoffman started his BMX career in high school with a bang. In addition to being a top-ranked BMX amateur, he had multiple endorsements. But by the time he was a senior in high school, he was not only drinking, but doing drugs. Today, Hoffman is currently ranked #2 in Masters Pro class and was the 2016 Rio Olympics Games Coach with Women’s BMX PRO. We interviewed Hoffman in 2011 and talked about how his success became a downward spiral and how he eventually found Christ.
Hoffman reflects on how he went from not doing drugs to using heroin and crack and sleeping on the streets.
“It was a long process. Even at 12 years old, I looked up to Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley. In front of the media, they were cocky, over confident, and I was already taking on that persona of just me, me, me-selfish. The bike kept me on the straight and narrow, but as I got older, my will not to drink and use drugs got set aside. I was 18, hadn’t been drunk or smoked up until that time, but then started associating myself with the wrong crowd. Eventually, I used drugs for five to six years, had been to rehab, and had been to jail once. I was on probation and at that point, was injecting methamphetamines, heroin, smoking crack, and abusing OxyContin…which ultimately led to the street. When you’re sleeping, and walking the streets alone, it’s a place where you can’t share the pain, because you know why you’re there. You’re engulfed in the guilt, shame, self-pity, all of these negative energies that choke you – kind of like a snake, a boa constrictor that would constrict you until you would explode. At that point, I figured I was going to die. That my life was over and there was nothing else that was going to come; and you almost accept it. I didn’t ask for a second chance, but I knew I was alive and I shouldn’t be. More people have overdosed than have gotten clean. Yet here I am, the worst of all users I knew, and I’m alive. There was that inspiration of finding myself and who I was within my relationship with God. I was realizing that I had a bike that I was more than talented on. I’d done great things in a short period of time from intermediate through high school, and that’s when Truth, Inspiration, BMX came about.”
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest… Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.” Acts 9:1,17-18
Hoffman opens up about how a drug connection invited him to church and how God met him.
“The day before I was arrested, I was invited to church from a drug connection from the west side of town. I tell people that God revealed himself to Moses through a bush, so why couldn’t he use a drug dealer to help reveal himself to me? And that’s exactly what he did. I was invited to church and I needed that person to invite me because I hung out and bought my drugs on that side of town. I felt more comfortable with those people and felt like could trust those people more than the people in the area of more money where I came from. So when he invited me I was willing to go and I was ready because [I was] homeless and didn’t have clothes [at that time]. The pastor laid his hands on me and told me that God had favored me my whole life and everything I had done. A lot of emotion came over me because he didn’t know who I was and the guy from the west side didn’t know anything about me either, just that I brought money over and exchanged hands. [The pastor] told me that I didn’t have to worry anymore, that God would remove me from my addiction. Twenty-four hours later, I was arrested and yet my heart was saying, ‘I believe, I believe, I believe, this is real, this is real.’”
Invite a friend to church. You don’t have to have your life “all together,” to invite someone else to church or an outreach event. Ask God to show you who to invite. It could be a neighbor, co-worker, family member, classmate or teammate. Rather than think of excuses why the person might not come, invite the person and allow them to make the decision for themselves. Remember that it often takes a person multiple invitations to come to church or an event that they aren’t familiar with. Don’t be discouraged if they decline the first time.
Pray for the Sauls to become Pauls. Read and reflect on the life of Saul and what his life was like before he met Christ. Then look at his ministry and life after he became a follower of Christ. Acts 9 is just the beginning of the story. There are people all around us who outwardly are far from Christ. Pray for them to come to know Christ. Think of the different people that reached out to you and how you can play that same role in someone else’s life.
Get help. Whether it is a friend, family member or you struggle personally with drug or alcohol addiction, it is time to get help. Many churches and organizations have programs that can help you. As a friend, be open to going to meetings with your friend or family member. They will need your support, love and listening ear.
To read our entire interview with Tony Hoffman, click here.
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