“RGIII!” the pastor, Apostle Nate Holcomb said, using Griffin’s ubiquitous nickname, as the congregation roared and an organ churned out major chords. “Speak to us for a moment!”
Throughout this transitional period in his young life, as Griffin was toggling between the sentimental tug of the past and the vast possibilities of the future, he found himself becoming increasingly philosophical. Always capable of looking inward, he seemed to be taking stock of his life and his character.
For the church service, Robert Griffin III had brought along the Heisman Trophy, which normally resides in a wooden cabinet, typically hidden from view behind closed doors, in the living room of the modest rancher just outside Copperas Cove where Robert and Jacqueline Griffin had raised their three children.
“When I was young, you always told me [to] never forget where I came from,” Griffin said to Holcomb when he took the microphone, according to an audio recording of the service provided by the church. “[So] I want to take this time to tell you guys about my parents . . .
“We have the Heisman here, and it’s so much more than just a trophy. You don’t build a house all at the same time, so that trophy came through all those different things my mom and dad had to go through when they were young to give me the life they gave me. One thing my dad always told me, was he would make sure I always had what he didn’t have. He couldn’t play basketball because he didn’t have tennis shoes — so I had five pairs of tennis shoes.”
He spoke of his faith, and of the obstacles he had overcome — chiefly a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during his sophomore year at Baylor. When Griffin was done, Holcomb placed his hand on the young man’s shoulder, bowed his head and prayed: “We thank you for this mighty oak in the forest of God . . . and [ask] that wherever you take Robert, others will see the love of God, and they will come out of darkness and into the marvelous light because of this young man.”
Afterward, Griffin sat at a table in the lobby of the church until late in the evening, signing autographs and posing for pictures with church members. Four days later, he accompanied his parents back to church for Mother’s Day services.
But that would be Griffin’s last visit to Christian House of Prayer Ministries for a long while. When he wasn’t in Ashburn, he was typically in Waco, tying up loose ends. And when he wasn’t in Waco, he was on the road somewhere, maintaining a schedule packed with appearances, many of them for his sponsors, which include Gatorade, Adidas, Subway, EvoShield, Castrol, EA Sports and Nissan.
Even squeezing in family time became difficult. At one point, Griffin flew from Washington to Houston for the day to sign autographs at a memorabilia show, called his parents and begged them to drive over from Copperas Cove — some 31
2 hours away — to see him, knowing he had to turn around and fly back to Washington after the show.