“I really feel like God put me in a situation and slowed down my life
enough to say: You know what, Marion, I should be the most important One
in your life.”
named the fastest woman on earth, Olympic track star Marion Jones
could no longer run from God when she found herself in a federal prison.
“God put me in a situation and slowed down my
life enough to say: You know what,
Marion, I should be the most important One in your life,” she told
the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Jones described her relationship with God, prior
to her conversion, as nominal, consisting of a flippant “Lord, help me” before
a track race or an offhanded ”Thank you” if she ran well.
She quickly ascended to fame and fortune after
the 2000 Olympics, when she became the first woman to take home five medals.
Gracing the covers of Vogue
and Time magazines and
signing million-dollar endorsement deals, Jones thought she had finally put
herself on the right tack.
2007 everything came to a screeching halt when she was convicted of perjury for
lying to federal officials about taking performance-enhancing steroids.
She was stripped of her records and medals and
sentenced to six months in Carswell Federal Prison in Fort Worth, Texas. She
says she unknowingly took the drugs, but did recognize them when confronted
While in prison things got worse. A fight with a
fellow prisoner landed Jones in solitary confinement for 49 days with only a
few photos of her young children, her Bible and her memories. There, during
what she calls “probably the worst part of my life,” she turned to Christ: “I
found myself opening up [the Bible] and the Word was just kind of oozing into me.
I was like a sponge. Sometimes God puts you in situations where there’s nothing
else and you have to turn to Him, and I feel comfortable saying that.”
Two years after being released, Jones signed with
the Tulsa Shock in the WNBA. Today she travels the country with her ministry,
Take A Break, inspiring youth and college students to think before making
decisions that will affect their future—something Jones wished she’d done when
she was questioned about her steroid use years earlier. Last year God opened a door
for Jones to share her message internationally at the invitation of the U.S.
She considers the work she now does even more
important than her previous occupation.
“I wouldn’t wish [my experiences] on my enemy—but
actually I would, if it would change them in such a positive way,” she says.
“It has helped me to prioritize what’s important in my life and it’s not fame,
it’s not fortune. It can only be Him. I’ve finally realized that I have a plan
and it’s His plan for [me].”