Magazine article The New American

Two Who Survived: Both Tim Tebow and Gianna Jessen Escaped the Death Sentence of Abortion and Now Inspire Others by Their Full, Active Lives

Magazine article The New American

Two Who Survived: Both Tim Tebow and Gianna Jessen Escaped the Death Sentence of Abortion and Now Inspire Others by Their Full, Active Lives

Article excerpt


At the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, a cluster of reporters and photographers watch a large screen. ESPN is broadcasting, live, the Heisman Memorial Trophy presentation at the nearby Nokia Theater, and the press conference featuring this year's four Heisman nominees is scheduled to take place in the cards auditorium shortly after the 73rd winner is announced.

The Heisman Trophy is awarded annually to college football's most outstanding player, who is selected by 925 electors composed of media personnel, former Heisman winners, and one fan ballot. Athletes who have won the bronze statue include Ohio State's Archie Griffin and Boston College's Doug Flutie. Admittedly, this year's recipient joins an elite fraternity.

Sometime after 9:00 p.m., a strapping (6'3", 235-pound) young man, with a cast on his right arm, approaches the podium. The winner is in the building. Cameras flash and questions start. "What is the first thing that went through your mind, when you heard your name called?" asks one reporter.

"It's surreal, a little bit. I'm thankful and honored," responds a smiling Tim Tebow.

Not only is Tebow, the 20-year-old University of Florida quarterback, the first sophomore to ever receive a Heisman, he has beaten out three accomplished upperclassmen--Darren McFadden of the University of Arkansas, Chase Daniel of the University of Missouri, and Colt Brennan of the University of Hawaii--to do so.

Then again, it's all about "firsts" with this charismatic athlete, who has been dubbed the "walking freight truck" and was recruited by 80 schools. He is the only player in NCAA history to run and pass for at least 20 touchdowns each in one season, which included a memorable gridiron confrontation with the Florida State University Seminoles, Florida's arch rival, in which the left-handed-throwing Tebow completed the game with a broken right hand.

Veteran sports commentators gush, not only about his fearlessness on the field, but also about his off-the-field endeavors, which include ministry to prison inmates and orphans. He has become such a larger-than-life persona in Gainesville, where the University of Florida is located, that local fans like to joke that "Superman wears Tim Tebow pajamas." There is even a Tim Tebow bill in the Alabama legislature which would afford home scholars (Tebow and his siblings were all home-schooled) equal access to public-school sports programs and extracurricular activities.

In addition to the Heisman, the Gators' star quarterback has also won the Davey O'Brien award, given to the nation's top quarterback, and the Maxwell award, given to the best all-around player, and was selected Associated Press Player of the Year and SEC Offensive Player of the Year.

But history would not have been made on this brisk night in the Big Apple if a certain woman, also sitting in the audience at the Hard Rock Cafe, had heeded the advice of her doctors.

In the mid-1980s, Pare Tebow and her husband, Bob, Tim's parents, who are also University of Florida graduates, were launching the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association in the Philippines and raising four young children. While abroad, Mrs. Tebow contracted amoebic dysentery, which is typically transmitted through contaminated food or water. During this stressful time, which included briefly being in a coma, she became pregnant with her fifth and final child.

As Mrs. Tebow explained to USA Today, the placenta didn't attach, possibly due to the medication she had used for her illness. "I was advised to have an abortion. The doctors said he [Tim] was a mass of fetal tissue and not a baby."

Her Christian faith led her to decline the grim medical prognosis. Instead, she spent most of the last trimester of the pregnancy bedridden, under the care of a new doctor, and in prayer for the child. Although Tim was born "malnourished," he was an otherwise healthy infant. …

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