One of the 40 million copies sold of The Purpose Driven Life has ended up in the large, paddle-like hands of Michael Phelps. In between winning Olympic golds, Phelps made headlines for very different reasons: repeated DUIs, parties and pot, weight gain, and rehab. But then a fellow athlete and friend, NFL Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis, gave him a copy of Rick Warren’s bestseller. Lewis told The Washington Post, “I gave him the book and said, ‘It’s time to wake up.'”
In an ESPN special, Phelps said the book “turned me into believing that there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet” and “helped me when I was in a place that I needed the most help.” It spurred him to reconcile with his dad.
This summer, the media celebrated the 31-year-old Phelps as stronger and more mature than ever; the record-crushing swimmer stayed sober throughout his training and brought along his fiancée and baby son to Olympic competition in Rio. The come-to-Jesus turnaround, as Lewis called it, began with a book that answers the basic question, “Why am I here?” with Scriptural truth.
About the Author
Kate Shellnutt is editor of Her.meneutics. She follows current events and religion news across the web from her home near Augusta, Georgia. A former religion editor for the Houston Chronicle, Kate studied religion and journalism at Washington and Lee University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She tweets as @KateShellnutt.