Summer 2024

Former NFL player Tommie Harris opens up about faith in God following death of wife and child

Tommie Harris had everything he’d dreamed of: He was a two-time college All-American, a three-time Pro Bowl NFL defensive tackle, and he’d made millions of dollars in his eight years in the league. And then his newlywed wife, Ashley, died in 2012.

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“My wife was going in to have a breast reduction surgery. We [were] married for 41 days,” Harris recently told Fox News. “I was on a plane … never knowing that when we land, I would get a phone call that said my wife stopped breathing on the table and I needed to hurry up and get to Oklahoma.”


“I had something like $25 million in the bank when I lost Ashley, and not one dollar had been able to help her,” Harris wrote for The Players’ Tribune in 2017. “If it could have, I would have given every last cent to save my wife.”

She’d had a brain aneurysm. After 11 days on life support Ashley passed away, and Harris was left reeling, the father to two children, and unsure where to go next.

He didn’t get involved in another relationship for four years, and later had a child with the woman. At 4 months old, the baby died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“I look at a miracle every day when I look in the mirror and see that I’m not in a straitjacket or [have] lost my mind for what I’ve been through,” Harris said. “I’m a walking testimony. God moves every day through me, encourages me, inspires me to help someone else beyond myself.”

Harris has devoted himself to charities in the Austin area where he lives, including The Boys and Girls Club of America, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, and Pros for Africa. He spoke at the Baptist General Convention’s “Men’s Rewired” Conference in April.

“I’m now having a personal, personal relationship [with God] … learning about God through personal experience, through losing my wife, losing my child,” Harris told Fox News. “My faith has grown more through troubles … your trouble builds you closer to God, the dis-ease in your life, the discomfort. God is able to fix all those things and through my faith I’ve been able to manifest a belief that manifests and changes each year … God is speaking to me to show people how valuable life is and how at any moment the game can change, so are you playing your hardest at every moment? With faith in God, you know He’ll never put more on you than you can bear.”

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