Deion Sanders' ascension from trash-talking two-sport star to, well, trash-talking Power Five coach has certainly had its ups and downs.
More than two decades ago, "Prime Time" would've never seen himself making Colorado the epicenter of college football or becoming a ratings darling worth millions. Back in 1997, Sanders was fighting his own inner demons, ones that led him to a rock bottom that included a suicide attempt.
How Deion Sanders Nearly Killed Himself
In Sanders' autobiography, "Power, Money & Sex: How Success Almost Ruined My Life," published in 1998, he told the story of his suicide attempt.
Sanders was in Cincinnati, where he was playing baseball for the Reds. He had already won two Super Bowls — one with the San Francisco 49ers and one with the Dallas Cowboys — and played in a World Series. For what it's worth, Prime hit .533 and stole five bases in four games for the Atlanta Braves during the 1992 World Series.
Despite success on the gridiron and diamond, and earning millions, Sanders intentionally drove his car off a cliff one day in '97. He was going through a divorce from his first wife, Carolyn Chambers, and lost custody of his first two children he shared with her, Deion Sanders Jr. and Deiondra Sanders.
He survived the drop, which was about 30-40 feet, and walked away without significant injuries.
"I was going through the trials and tribulations of life. I was pretty much running on fumes," he wrote in his book. "I was empty, no peace, no joy. Losing hope with the progression of everything."
It was the wake-up call Sanders needed.
Sanders Is Now Outspoken About Faith and Mental Health
Sanders turned to God after the crash. His agent at the time got him in touch with a pastor from Columbus who helped guide him during that difficult part of his life.
"I gave my life to the Lord in a condo all alone in Cincinnati, Ohio, while I was playing baseball," Sanders recalled in a 2021 appearance on the "I Am Athlete" podcast. "I went through a roller coaster of emotions. I was at the bottom of, to me, what life was."
Sanders is still very much a man of faith. As he navigates a bumpy first season with the Buffaloes, his social media feed on X is filled with Bible verses and mentions of God.
Following Saturday's loss to Oregon State that put Colorado 4-5 on the season, Sanders posted this message on X on Tuesday:
"If u want Love give Love unconditionally. If u lack Patience extend Patience to others unconditionally. If u want to be Blessed be a Blessing to others. Give & it shall be given unto u Luke 6:38. Let's all exercise this principal today. #CoachPrime," he wrote.
If u want Love give Love unconditionally. If u lack Patience extend Patience to others unconditionally. If u want to be Blessed be a Blessing to others. Give & it shall be given unto u Luke 6:38. Let's all exercise this principal today. #CoachPrime
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) November 7, 2023
Sanders has also talked about the importance of athletes, especially male athletes, speaking about mental health issues and checking in on each other.
Sanders also notably criticized the NCAA for denying Colorado offensive lineman Tyler Brown immediate eligibility after Brown transferred from Jackson State and cited mental health concerns as the reason to play right away. Brown has taken antidepressants and anxiety medication since he was a teenager, and he said he didn't want to go into a "dark place again" without football.
"Some things just don't make sense," Sanders said. "You say you really care about mental health, but when you have someone really dealing with mental health, there's a problem. Then, ostracizing him and not allowing him to do what he's blessed and gifted to do and the thing that presents him peace, that's trying for a young man."
There's a lot more to Sanders than many fans might realize, and that day in 1997 serves as a reminder that even the most successful athletes on the planet are human like the rest of us.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or chat live at 988lifeline.org. Additionally, you can visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for more support.
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