In the midst of a global pandemic and America’s latest bout of racial tensions, New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty and his wife, Michelle, have also endured the pain of a stillbirth of their third child after 31 weeks of pregnancy.
The couple was excited for the birth of their second daughter, Mia McCourty, who was due in July. Yet on May 24, after 21 hours of labor, baby Mia was born with the umbilical cord around her neck.
Devin and Michelle announced their loss on social media a week later.
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I’ve seen and felt God in so many ways in this last week. 1st was holding my 3rd child Mia and telling her I love her and then telling her see you later…all in one day. 2nd has been leading such a strong and powerful woman @dr_yimac32…her strength has brought me to tears but also inspired me to be what God has called me to be. 3rd Gods love on earth has been shown to us by unbelievers friends and family who have checked on us daily, and hourly. Thank you everyone for your love and prayers -Dmac
“Pray that, despite our deep sorrow, God is able to use us and this tragedy in the way He intended. Hopefully for some good,” Michelle wrote on Instagram.
After the birth, Michelle said she opened the Bible app on her phone and read the verse of the day, Hebrews 12:11: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
“In between the sobs, reading this was literally the only thing that gave me an ounce of hope for the future during such a tragic moment,” Michelle wrote.
For Devin, his wife’s post gave him a glimpse of God’s character. In Tuesday’s episode of the Sports Spectrum Podcast, Devin opened up about the loss and his emotions in the weeks since.
“For me, I know when I read it and she sent it to me, as her husband, I saw God in her because I knew how hard it was and how long it took her to write something,” he said, “of how many times I would see her on her phone thinking and trying to write and just not being able to find words. So I know for me, when she sent it and I read it, I knew that was Him. He was working in her.”
The two-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion said that he first learned of the devastating news on a phone call with Michelle, when he was with his two other kids, daughter Londyn and son Brayden.
“For me, you heard stories like this, but you never thought you’d be going through it.” Devin said. “You’re eight months pregnant with your third kid, what we felt like was probably going to be our last kid, and you go through that. For me, it was so hard.”
Devin, 32, turned to faithful believers in his life to meet his pain with Biblical truth. They included his twin brother Jason, longtime college and NFL teammate Duron Harmon and current Patriots teammate Matthew Slater.
“I saw God right away,” Devin said. “… I text them and I tell them what happened. And I’m just honest with them and I tell them, ‘Man, I don’t know how I’m going to get through tomorrow.'”
They each prayed with him and for him and directed him back to encouraging passages in the Bible.
Devin and Michelle have spent many nights holding hands and praying as they process the pain. Yet they have seen God’s divine blessings in the people they have met and stories they have heard in the weeks since their loss.
“I will say one of the biggest blessings of everything was how many people reached out to us that had [gone] through similar things — sometimes even more heartbreaking — and just how vulnerable and open people were talking to us about it,” Devin said. “It definitely lifted us, gave us a sense of community… And even with God’s presence, you felt Him there, but you just felt like, ‘Man, is there anybody else here?’ And when so many people reached out, it just felt like we entered a new community of people.”
McCourty has started every game of his NFL career after being drafted by New England out of Rutgers in the first round in 2010. He is one of the players teammates look toward for guidance and answers during an extremely eventful and unique offseason. His pain and NFL experience have guided his teammates through their uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and their fear of the chaos of the world.
The Patriots have seen legendary quarterback Tom Brady depart for Tampa Bay, while welcoming in his replacement and 2015 NFL MVP, Cam Newton. On top of the roster transition, the league continues to cope with the pandemic and George Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer.
Devin has remained grounded in his walk with Christ during this time, especially with the lessons he’s seen in the Book of James. He knows that God hasn’t abandoned him.
“I feel like [God has] shown us a little bit of that purpose, and I think with everything going on in 2020, you can’t say it’s done. He’s still working on us,” Devin said. “…I think we’ve got to keep walking in that light and spending time with Him daily.”
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– Patriots’ Matthew Slater focused on serving others while training at home