Doctors suggested Korey Miller give up football after a devastating hit revealed a degenerative back condition.

It was a test of his faith.

Miller was among the state’s best football players at Capitol High School from 1985-88, and he had visions of going further. But the hard hit effectively ended his football career.

“It was a tough pill to swallow,” he said. “(Doctors) said if I had anymore contact, I could become paralyzed, and I didn’t want that. Everybody in my family played football, and they were looking for me to go a long way.”

Without football, Miller turned his attention to academics and other pursuits, eventually graduating from Southern University with degrees in criminal justice and sociology.

“My faith is strong," he said. "I asked God to let the Holy Spirit lead and guide me.”

Miller was a teacher and coach, and he dabbled in the music industry. His latest venture combines his two passions — sports and his faith — into a business and evangelistic venture.

The 49-year-old Baton Rouge man is the founder of Athletic Soldier, a faith-based sports apparel company.

“It’s basically using the platform that sports has to spread the word of God,” said Miller, a deacon at Beacon Light Baptist Church. “I got hurt and I wasn't able to play. I got to study the industry and said this is where I want to be. Sports is me."

The company is marketing inspirational wristbands and T-shirts with the words: “Athletic Soldier: Five-star ame changer in Jesus name.”

“The Bible talks about being a soldier enlisted in the army and athletics,” Miller said. “I put two and two together to get the message out. It might save someone. It might touch somebody’s heart.”

Miller said he got the inspiration for Athletic Soldier about four years ago from 2 Timothy: 2:3-5: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

“God doesn’t want us to struggle with the affairs of this world,” Miller said. “We're dealing with spiritual warfare. He wants us to be a good soldier and stay enlisted a little longer.”

Miller said just as soldiers during biblical times had to have discipline in training for physical competition, Christians need to have the same kind of discipline in studying God’s word to engage in spiritual warfare.

“Sports has a lot to do with God,” Miller said. “Whether spiritual or athletically, a Christian has to work the word for themselves in everyday life, pay your tithes, treat your brother or sister right, have love and compassion.”

Soldiers and Christians need to train to be the best, he said.

“To win games or to defeat your opponent, you have to play by the rules,” he said. “If you don’t play by the rules, you won’t receive your crown.”

Miller has also stayed connected to sports as a coach for the South Baton Rouge Jaguars youth football teams since 2010, where he also shares his faith.

“That’s what I’m all about — giving back to the community,” Miller said. “I tell them every day anything you do on this field to put God first.”

Miller’s said his goal is for Athletic Soldier apparel to be a successful business venture that is also used to bring the word of God around the world.

“This is my vision, my prayer, my mission,” he said.

For more information on Athletic Soldier, call (225) 330-1403 or email koreysmiller1@gmail.com.

Another day, another blessing

Do you believe in miracles? Real miracles. Not the kind the world talks about and so often exaggerates and overuses. The kind of miracle that refers to an event or situation that is not only improbable or highly unlikely, but something that is impossible and could happen only through the hand of the Almighty God.

Matthew 19:26 says, "With God all things are possible." All things.

A few days ago, my wife and I were watching the famed 2002 football game between LSU and Kentucky in the Bluegrass State. Kentucky scored with only 11 seconds in the game to take the lead. The fans started celebrating and many got out of their seats to get ready to storm the field; the players started dancing on the sidelines. A few players even dunked the coach with Gatorade, that ridiculous ritual that is supposed to signify victory.

Kentucky's win chances seemed likely as LSU was down to one last play with two seconds left and 75 yards away from the end zone. But on that last play, the LSU quarterback threw a prayer of a pass that was tipped by a Kentucky player and landed in the hands of an LSU player who dashed in for the stunning, game-winning touchdown as the clock ran out. The play has become known as the "Bluegrass Miracle."

You can accept the victory as a miracle, but remember LSU had one play and two seconds left (the announcers even made note of that). But God can perform miracles even when there's seemingly no plays left and the clock says :00.

God can perform miracles when the cancer has spread through your body, and the doctors have given up on you. God can perform miracles when the womb has closed, and doctors suggest that maybe you should consider adoption if you really want a child. God can perform miracles when the alcohol has destroyed the liver, the diabetes has damaged the kidneys, the stroke has taken away your speech and the drugs have fried the brains.

There's still time for your miracle. And even when it seemed as though time has passed, you would be amazed at what God can still do. God performs miracles every day, but he often does his best work then. Ask Job. The suffering man had the faith to say in Job 5:9: “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted." Don't ever count God out.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. To reach Terry Robinson, call (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com.