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Catapulting Over a Painful Past

Original Air Date 08/01/2012

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Author and speaker Kim Anthony shares her testimony of overcoming incredible odds as a child to become a world-class gymnast, and eventually finding deeper meaning to her athletic achievement through faith in Jesus Christ.

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Episode Transcript



Kim Hamilton Anthony: Get this. For 18 years of my life, I had been told that I was a mistake and worse than that, I believed it and I lived my life accordingly.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: That’s Kim Hamilton Anthony and today you’ll hear how she overcame a really difficult childhood to become a world-class gymnast. Thanks for joining us today. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, the winter Olympics in South Korea will be ending Sunday and we thought we’d commemorate the Olympics by featuring, as you said, a world-class gymnast who really is an example of that spirit of competition, although she did not get a chance to compete in these games. Kim Hamilton Anthony made history by becoming the first African-American female to be recruited and receive a scholarship to compete on UCLA’s gymnastics team. Being from Southern Cal, I appreciate that. There, she became a six-time All-American and four-time National Champion-- man, that is an achievement! And that’s all we’re gonna reveal right now; let’s let Kim tell the rest of the story.

John: Okay, good idea. She’s written a book about her life, you can read that-- it’s called Unfavorable Odds. We do have copies here. Support Focus on the Family and get a copy from us. Here now, Kim Hamilton Anthony speaking at the high school ministry of Saddleback Church in southern California on Focus on the Family.


Kim: Imagine what it would be like to be a teenager and live in a four-room house with 10 or 13 of your relatives. Imagine being a teenager and not having indoor plumbing. Your bathroom is an outhouse at the end of the backyard. There are a lot of mouths to feed, a lot of bills to pay and you, as the youngest of the bunch, come home and you have to tell your parents that there will be yet another mouth to feed, because you are pregnant.

Well, this was the situation in which my mother found herself. So, she was pressured to end the pregnancy. And she was shown exactly how she could do it, so that I could not become another poor soul born into a desperate situation.

And because my mother was confused and scared and because this advice came from someone she loved and respected, she thought that a self-induced abortion was the only way. Now, she attempted. She attempted once. She attempted twice. She attempted several times to do what her mother encouraged her to do, but nothing happened.

And finally she said, “I don’t want to do this.I want to keep my child.” Now I would still struggle to make it into this world, because as a child, my mother was hit by a car and it crushed her pelvic bone. So, when it came time for her to deliver, we ran into some complications. The doctor said, either the mother lives or the child lives, but one must die. And this brave young teenager decided that she wanted the child to live. And she told those doctors to do everything they could to save this baby. So, she was willing to risk her life for me.

Well, during the Caesarean birth, my head got caught beneath her pelvic bone. And the doctor said that they would have to break my neck in order to free me, which would cost my life. And then out of nowhere, this doctor, he rushes in and he says that he could save both mama and the baby. And that’s exactly what he did. A second time, my life was spared. Well, I wonder if that doctor knew, too, that even though this teenage girl was lying there, that God didn’t make mistakes.

Well, shortly after I was born, my parents decided to get married. And I wish that I could say that they live happily ever after, but unfortunately, that was not the case. You see, my father was often unemployed, more often getting high on drugs. And my mother had to make- work two jobs just to make ends meet.
But when I looked into the eyes of my mother, I knew she loved me. She worked hard to provide for me. She told me she loved me. She cared for me. But on the other hand, when I looked into the eyes of my father, it just … it didn’t seem I had enough value or worth in his eyes, at least not enough for him to hang around. You see, he would disappear but I can’t say that he was completely absent from my life. You see, there’s something he taught me how to do when I was really young. When I was about 6 or 7, he taught me how to roll joints. And I got very good at it. We grew weed in the house like houseplants.

Well, it seemed as if I would become another product of the drug and ghetto mentality, but I had this dream, this crazy dream. I wanted to become a world-class athlete. I didn’t want to become a basketball star or a track star, which was common in my neighborhood. But I wanted to be a gymnast. And let me tell you, for a little black girl in the ‘hood, that was a crazy dream.

And there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t have somebody tellin’ me that. They told me that I was wasting my time, that after all, gymnastics was a white girl sport. And even when I started training, my coaches told me that I didn’t have what it took to become one of the best.

But in spite of those discouraging words, I continued to work hard and soon found myself on the U.S. National Team, traveling all around the world representing my country. And then I went on to UCLA and accomplished some things there. But when I was at UCLA, I no longer based my value on my ability to handle drugs. I now based my value on my athletic accomplishments. If I performed well, I felt good about myself. If I didn’t perform well, I felt useless.

Needless to say, I was on (chuckling) an emotional roller-coaster ride. One day I was hangin’ out with my friends. And we were at Burger King. It was about 1 in the morning. We’re just laughin’ and kidding around with each other.

And there were some words exchanged between the group I was with and another group of people. And it was over something really silly. I don’t even remember exactly what it was but we walked up to the restaurant door, chatted some more and all of a sudden, I heard some screaming, okay? So, of course, I turned around and found myself staring down the barrel of a gun. And on the other side of that gun was an angry young man who was telling me that he was going to kill me.

And as I looked down the barrel of that gunthat was only inches away from my forehead, it didn’t matter how I grew up. It didn’t matter whether my daddy came home or not.It didn’t even matter that I had just won my first NCAA title a few months before. Everything that I had looked to, to give me value was all of a sudden worth absolutely nothing.

And by the grace of God, I was able to walk away from that event, but I walked away thinking, “You know what? There just has to be more to life than this. You live; you die and for what?”

So, the following year, I went back to UCLA and I started dating this football player, who shared with me that, yes, there was more to life than what I had been experiencing. And he shared with me that God loved me, had a plan for my life and that I could actually have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Now I had never heard that before. I never knew that God loved me personally. I knew He loved everybody in general, but me personally? And He wanted to have a relationship with me?And I realized at that moment that that was what I had been missing all along.

And so, I prayed and I surrendered my heart to Christ and I asked Him to make me the person He wanted me to be. Andfrom that moment on, my life began to change.

And my relationship with this young man soon turned into a physical relationship. And one day He said, “I want to stop having sex. This is not honoring to God.” He said, “I want to save myself for my future wife, whoever that is.”

And then he pulled out his Bible and he read this verse to me, 1 Corinthians 6:18 through 20: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside of his body, but he who sins sexually, sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”

Now of course, this was the first time that I had ever heard that verse and it was the first time I had ever heard that God’s plan for physical relationship was in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. Well, as I began to grow in my relationship with God, I really came to realize that my value was not based on my athletic accomplishments, but it was based on the fact that God loved me, and had a plan for my life. And I realized thatthe boundaries God had created were not meant to keep me from having fun. No, God is all into fun! But it was meant to protect me. So that I could experience true fun. And real pleasure, but, without regrets.

Now the truth I came to know, was thatGod loved me and I was nota mistake. Get this. For 18 years of my life, I had been told that I was a mistake and worse than that, I believed it and I lived my life accordingly. And if there is anyone in this room who has ever wondered or if that thought has ever crossed your mind that you were a mistake, just remember this. God doesn’t make mistakes. God does not make mistakes.

Program Note:

John: This is Focus on the Family and that is Kim Hamilton Anthony and you’ll hear more in just a few moments. Let me just say, we have a CD of this program and Kim’s book Unfavorable Odds. We invite you to call for your copies; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or go online at And please, remember that when you get the book and CD from us at our online store, those proceeds go right back into ministry to encourage those who are struggling, to offer a lifeline to a challenged marriage, to help parents at a moment of crisis-- that’s what Focus on the Family does and that’s what’s possible when you shop with us at the Focus on the Family online store.

Let’s go ahead and continue now; Kim Hamilton Anthony is gonna turn a corner to address issues that her audience of high school students are facing.

End of Program Note

Kim: You’re all at an age where things are a little different than they were before. To the girls, the guys are no longer smelly and gross. To the guys, the girls no longer have the cootie touch. So, you … you have this attraction now to each other instead of repelling each other.

And I’m sure it was a lot easier to honor God with your lives before this attraction started. Am I right? Hm. (Laughter)And many of you … of you, I’m sure know about God’s plan for us to abstain from a sexual relationship before marriage. And oh, how I wish that when I was your age, that I knew the same. Unfortunately, because of the way I was brought up, I never knew how a young man should treat a young woman.

And I was very eager to find love. I wanted to be loved, protected, cared for. And if that meant giving up my body to someone to get that love, unfortunately, that’s what I did. But it never allowed me to receive that love that I was really searching for. It was the biggest mistake of my life, a mistake that still affects me today.

Honoring God with your bodies is the most important thing you can do right now. It has unending... unending repercussions.Now I don’t think any of you doubt that surrendering in this area is ever worth it. Even if it’s all about receiving the love that you want.

Fellows, havin’ a girlfriend, girls, havin’ a boyfriend and entering into a physical relationship is never going to give you the love you’ve been searching for. All it will do is end up bringing heartache, pain and so much regret.

It will affect your marriage. What you do now will affect your marriage.And if you’re living a lifestyle where you are surrendering in that area, it’s going to affect your marriage in that it will cause you not to trust your spouse. It will be harder to maintain your faithfulness to your spouse. And I think about the whole hookin’ up thing and having friends with benefits. Do you realize, they did a study on that and they found out that when you live a lifestyle like that, you are reprogramming your mind to be with multiple partners.

So, when you go and get to the point where you’re ready to settle down, you’ve found that someone who’s special, you’ll find that you won’t be able to commit to that relationship, because you’ve already reprogrammed your mind to be with multiple people. And those who are in that situation and they do get up the nerve to say, “I do,” when it comes to maintaining their faithfulness to their spouse, they won’t. Now my husband and I have worked with the NFL for the past ten years. And we see it all the time. All the time. Too many times.

And I’m not gonna play ignorant to the fact that there may be someone here or a few people here who have already crossed that line. You’ve lost your virginity. You wish you could get it back. What do I do now? Well, to you I say, start again today. God wants you to get right back up and honor Him with your life. And He will bring healing and wholeness to you.

Don’t think that because you’ve crossed that line, that you are now gonna miss out on God’s future promise of blessing for you. Never give up on trying to honor God. Never give up. Surround yourself with people who want to live the lifestyle that you live. And never, never give up.

Now let’s talk about what can we do to help us to not enter into that trap or fall into that trap that leads to ‘unhappily ever after.’ Well, first of all, when it comes to honoring God with your lives, I want you to have a healthy perspective of yourselves, okay? That’s your first goal.Have a healthy perspective of yourself and understand how much God values you.

Now the world tells us that our value is based on how we look, how popular we are, how famous we are. And you know, honestly, it’s a lie.It’s a lie. And some of you may not realize that, but when you get my age, you realize that it’s a lie.

So, we have to listen to the truth about what God tells us. What does God say about us? Well, in Ephesians 2:10, He says that we are His workmanship. He created us. He didn’t just throw us together and see what comes out. No. You are the way you are, because that’s the way God created you to be.

You may be different and you are different from everybody else. You may have different interest. You have different looks, personality, all those things. None of those things are a mistake. You are who you are because God made you that way. And He values you.

And there are things that you can do in this world that no one else can do, because God meant that for you. You’re not valued because of what Susie, Bobby and Jimmy say about you. You’re valued because of what God says about you. And He says you are His workmanship, His masterpiece and you belong to Him.

Ladies, be women of discretion. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that in order to attract people to you that you have to wear clothing that’s revealing. You’ve heard the saying that your actions speak louder than your words. Well, I say, your clothing speaks louder than your words.

Well, think about it. You go to church. You can pray, but if you’re dressed inappropriately, the way you dress is going to speak the opposite of everything you say. Does that make sense? Okay. So, you don’t want the way you dress to speak completely opposite about your true character.

And any young man who is attracted to you because of the way you dress, if you’re dressing immodestly, he will be attracted for all the wrong reasons. And he may look good to you. He may talk the talk, walk the walk (Laughter). He may behave for a while, but let me tell you. He has come into that relationship, because of the way you dress, with expectations, alright?

And you will find yourself in a situation where you’re gonna have to say ‘no’. But because of the way you dress, you’ve already said ‘yes’ and that’s a dangerous place to be. So, have a healthy perspective of who you are and how much God values you.

Next, I want to encourage you to practice purity of mind. First of all, guard your eyes. There is so much junk out of there. You have billboards, magazines, Internet, you name it. And it’s just a mess and there’s a lot of stuff out there that is dishonoring to God. Guard your eyes from those things, because you can be here at church, worshippin’, at home praying and all of a sudden, that picture you saw on the Internet pops up in your mind and it starts messin’ with you. And it takes your mind off of the things of God and onto things which breaks [sic] God’s heart. So, guard your eyes.

Next, guard your ears. Be careful of what you listen to. Now I know I’ll have-- there’s always somebody out there who’s saying, “Well, you know, I just like the beat. I just like the music, you know. The groove is good. I’m just listenin’ to that. I’m not even listenin’ to the lyrics.”

Well, let me tell you somethin’. While you are groovin’ to your beat, listening to your music, those lyrics are being etched into your brain. And the next thing you know, even without thinkin’, those words will come out of your mouth. And you’ll say, “Ooh! I didn’t know I knew that song.” (Laughter) Ho! So, please guard your ears. Be careful what you listen to.

And also, guard your thoughts. You may say to yourself, “You know what? I justthinkabout doin’ it. I’m not really gonna do it. I’m just thinkin’ about it. Just, you know, wondering what it would be like.” That in itself is dishonoring to God, but when you continue to have a thought life that is not under control, then you are setting yourself up for failure.

The battle for sexual purity takes place first in the mind. And if you can win the battle there, then when you find yourself in a tempting situation, you are more likely to be successful at walkin’ away. So, guard your thoughts. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

And finally, don’t sacrifice future blessings for a temporary satisfaction. It’s like someone offering you $1,000 now, okay? You could take $1,000 now or wait a little while and I’ll give you a million dollars. Which is the better deal? A million! So, is the million dollars worth the wait?

Well, I want to challenge you not to sell yourselves short, because if one million dollars is worth the wait, then so are you, because you are worth far, far more than that. So, don’t sacrifice future blessings for temporary satisfactions.

Now the value that God places on each and every one of you here is greater than anything you could ever imagine. He loves you dearly. And I encourage you to honor Him with your mind, your soul, your body, your whole being. Honor Him. And if you do, you will never regret it. You will never regret it.

And by the way, uh … that young man who shared Christ with me in college and who helped me to see my full value, well, we’re still the best of friends today. And we’ve been married for 18 years. (Extended Cheers and Applause)


John: What a response from the high school ministry at Saddleback Church in southern California and that really shows their appreciation for the speaker that we’ve had today on Focus on the Family, Kim Hamilton Anthony.

Jim: John, I really appreciate Kim’s story and the fact that she’s using it to bring glory to God as an author, speaker, and leadership coach. She worked with Athletes in Action as chaplain for the wives of the Miami Dolphins for about 10 years. Kim and her husband Corwin have now been married for 24 years and they have two grown sons.

John: And, you know, Jim, her story reminds me of that analogy that apostle Paul made in 1 Corinthians when he said, “Don’t you know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. “

Jim: And clearly that’s exactly what Kim is doing, John, she’s running to win. And that’s what all of us here at Focus on the Family do, I hope, each and every day. We’re not just strolling along indifferently; we are here giving our all every day to help your family thrive and many many others; to share the love of Jesus Christ with everyone we contact.

A great example of that is our Brio magazine for teen girls, which features time-tested, biblical advice like we heard from Kim today. If you have teen daughters or granddaughters, you’ll want to get them a subscription to Brio. And if you’d like to be a part of our team to help us make resources like Brio available to help teen girls become godly young women, please make a donation to Focus today. And when you give a donation of any amount, we’ll send you a CD of this message from Kim Hamilton Anthony so that you can share it with a young person in your sphere of influence.

John: And we’ll invite you to give generously when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or you can donate online and request that CD at And don’t forget to get a copy of Kim’s book, Unfavorable Odds which has a lot more of the details of her story.

On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire Focus on the Family team, thanks for listening. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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Kim Anthony

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Kim Anthony is an author, speaker and part of Athletes in Action's Pro Staff. She has worked as a television host and ESPN sports reporter, and for 10 years, she served as a chaplain for the wives of Miami Dolphins players. Kim made history by becoming the first African-American female to be recruited by UCLA and given a scholarship to compete on their gymnastics team. She later became a six-time All-American and four-time National Champion and was inducted into UCLA's Hall of Fame. Kim and her husband, Corwin, reside in Ohio and have two grown children. Learn more about Kim by visiting her website,