When Levar Fisher left NC State back in 2001, he set the benchmark of success for every future linebacker to chase after. His 492 career tackles are the most in NC State history. Three times in his career he had 20+ tackles in an individual game. Fisher was a 2-time 1st Team All-American, 2-time 1st Team All-ACC, and was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2000.
After Fisher left NC State, he was drafted in the 2nd round by the Arizona Cardinals with the 49th overall pick in 2002. Dreams came true for Levar, but sometimes dreams don’t last as long as we would like.
“Dreams came true playing for the NFL. Going out to Arizona was kind of rocky. At NC State soak-n-wet, I weighed 225 pounds. The Cardinals moved me to strongside linebacker, and they wanted me to put on like 20 pounds,” said Fisher. “Once I got up to 245-50 pounds, my knees just couldn’t take it, and my body just kind of started breaking down. Surgery after surgery happened, and it just began to derail my NFL career. But my dreams came true. I was drafted in the NFL, and made millions out there, and it was good while it lasted. Unfortunately I thought I was going to play 12 years or so, just like any draftee dreams of doing. But it didn’t happen that way.”
After three seasons with the Cardinals, Fisher signed a 1-year contract with the New Orleans Saints, but his body just couldn’t take it.
“After NC State I was the king of my universe. I could do no wrong. But when you get hurt in the NFL, it’s like you’re a cast away. You’re the bottom of the barrel. Life seems to be over for you,” said Fisher. “That’s how I felt. When the NFL was over, I’m going to be honest with you…I pouted for about a year. Crying my eyes out. Wondering what went wrong. Not understanding what I was on this earth to do. I thought I was on this earth to make millions of dollars and to funnel money into my foundation.”
In the midst of his professional career, Fisher started his foundation called Fisher of Men. The foundation provided shelter for women and children, helped with food and finances, and even started a homeless shelter in North Carolina.
“It’s amazing to see you how you can make a difference in one persons life,” said Fisher. “When you can see the relief on a persons face when you help them with a bill, or the next meal, that’s love man. That’s what I believe we are here on this earth to do. To bring release to people. To help people that are less fortunate than you. If you can help…why not?”
After football didn’t work out he needed perspective. He didn’t understand how he could carry out his purpose anymore. It took the voice of former NC State head football coach Chuck Amato to help him see the light.
“I remember talking to Chuck Amato after everything went down. Chuck made me see the light,” said Fisher. “I had finished with the New Orleans Saints, and I remember saying “I don’t know what I’m good at Chuck.” Coach said ‘What? I’ve been putting you in front of a camera your whole college career, because you were a good speaker. I’ve been seeing you do speeches through your foundation. I saw that Arizona sent you around to speak at the high school and elementary schools. You’re good at that. God has been putting you in position to do this, whether you want to or not. He’s put you in a position to be a voice.” It was like someone whacked me upside my head with a baseball bat, and it was nothing but God. Chuck was quoting Scripture and telling me all of the things that he saw in me.”
Shortly after his phone call with Chuck, Fisher got a call from the chaplain of the Chicago Bears Chaplain to come and help him put on a camp. Through him he learned about Sports World Ministries, and went on to be a speaker for them for a year-and-a-half. Fisher was able to go into schools that couldn’t afford a big-time speaker, and tell these students his story about how God transformed his life.
“God has transformed me. In college, and my first years in the NFL, it was all about Levar. It was about how much he could conquer. That was with women…that was with accomplishments…that was with everything,” said Fisher. “It was all about me. I was helping a lot of people, but it was all about me. My Senior year in college was when I asked God to save me, and then they gave me a couple million dollars, and I kind of backslid on that. My life was turned around when I met my wife and my first daughter was born. Everything changed. It’s all God.”
Fisher’s Fisher of Men foundation still has the same goals that it did when it began, but it now accomplishes them through his gift as a professional speaker. They help sponsor speakers, whether it is Fisher or someone else, to go into schools that can’t afford to pay for a speaker. They also provide books and scholarships. You can learn more about what Levar is doing at his website LevarFisher.com