Challenge SPORT

Out of darkness

Former AFL Richmond listed player Chris Yarran shares in a Youtube interview how he tried to drown out the darkness in his life with footy and success, but how that darkness eventually destroyed all he had achieved.

Chris Yarran
Chris Yarran of the Richmond Tigers marks the ball during a media session in Melbourne last year. (Photo Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Chris grew up in an unstable home in WA. At the age of nine his father was incarcerated for 18 years. His mother tried her best to raise five kids alone, moving around from town to town to avoid violent relationships. The children kept having to change schools, and struggled to make friends.

It was not unusual to witness and be involved in fights every weekend. "Some of the memories I will never forget are seeing my own mother being beaten in front of me," Chris recalls. "Football was my escape."

He says football was something he could gain respect in. "I grew up resenting my surroundings and prepared to do anything to get away from them. Football was my ticket."

In seven years Chris went from being a kid who had nothing to being on top of the world.

"I had it all but it was only treating the symptoms of my unhappiness," he confesses.

"My eighth year was when my life began to fall apart. I was introduced to methamphetamines by a family member."

Chris had despised drugs up to that point and remembers thinking before he took the ice "this will either just be a good night, or this will destroy me".

"It ruined me," he admits frankly. "It destroyed my relationships, my career, my finances, and my health – both physical and mental. I went from being a fit young athlete to being a slob.

"Once I no longer got a kick from smoking ice, I started injecting it."

“Football
was my
escape”
Chris tried every avenue of help the professionals recommended – counselling, a psychiatrist and rehab - once spending four weeks in rehab at $1000/night only to shoot up on the day he got out.

Chris passes the ball
Chris passes the ball during a session in 2015. (Photo Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Chris's football career ended and he moved back to Perth where he realised he had hit rock bottom and lost everything. Then he met a pastor called Steve who invited him to a special series of meetings at church. Chris decided he had tried every human resource available; he needed something supernatural to fix him.

Although he had grown up knowing God was real, Chris had never known who God was. That day, the 20th of February 2017, Chris went down to the front of the church to pray a prayer asking God to forgive him for his sins and to become ruler of his life.

"I met God," Chris says simply. "For so long I had tried to overcome the darkness inside me but the moment I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, everything changed. I felt like a new person. The darkness was gone, replaced with a light that gives me the joy and peace I hadn't found in my career or drugs. I no longer had a desire for drugs, drink, partying and gambling. It was like I was made an entirely new person from the inside out. I was born again."

To those who identify with his upbringing and experiences, Chris says "You don't have to live a life in depression and hopelessness. There is hope. You don't have to go through this alone because Jesus Christ loves you. The Bible says in John 3:16 that God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not die but have life everlasting.

"If you surrender your life to Jesus Christ, I am 110% certain He can change you like He changed me."

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