Jeremy Ross has left his mark on Cal’s campus. And on May 21st of this year, he received his Berkeley diploma and proudly became the first person in his family to graduate college.
If you ask any of his teammates on the Cal Football team, they’ll each tell you why they respect Jeremy as both a leader and a friend. He’s known for his animated personality that makes the whole team smile, but also for ability to engage students, keeping it real by not shying away from talking about life’s challenges and hardships.
Although Jeremy has always been looked up to, he hasn’t always been a leader. And the truth is: most people are not natural leaders… until God first teaches them how. That’s why the campus ministry in the BACC has Christians who believe that the greatest leadership training comes from imitating the God of the Bible.
“Before, I didn’t think I needed people,” says Jeremy, “I prided myself in doing everything on my own. I wanted to get success for myself without anybody’s help.”
A tough start
Growing up in a rough neighborhood without much support, Jeremy developed a jaded view of relationships. He saw football as his individual pursuit to “get ahead” of others and fulfill his dream of self-built success.
The problem with living only for yourself is that you end up living alone.
“On the outside, I was a good dude… I was a religious guy. I didn’t even cuss,” says Jeremy, “But no one knew who I was.” Jeremy’s external image masked his real feelings about himself and the condition of his relationships.
“My life was heading in the wrong direction. I was disrespectful. I had no close friends. I was a terrible student… I was a follower,” says Jeremy.
Love and truth form a good leader;
sound leadership is founded on loving integrity.
Proverbs 20: 28 (Message)
A little help from his friends
There’s a point in everyone’s life where God brings us together with the exact friends that we need. For Jeremy, this came when he joined the Cal Football team and met a teammate named Greg Yamamoto who invited him to church and started studying the Bible with him. He was surprised by their honesty and sincere care for each other, which was radically different than his own shallow view of relationships and self-advancing mindset.
While studying the Bible, Jeremy met Sam and Sean Manuel, both ex-49ers, who became great mentors and taught him the freedom to be yourself that comes with having a relationship with God. “Instead of just getting ahead, they taught me about making people great along the way.” And it’s no surprise that Sam and Sean both had to be taught the same thing when they were in college! Fortunately, they also had friends in the Bay Area Christian Church who believed in helping their friends become great through a relationship with God.
A leader is born
What Jeremy saw in Greg, Sam, Sean, and many others were two of God’s most compelling traits: love and truth. God knew that Jeremy would always be empty until he learned how to be honest and how to love people more than himself. But God also knew that when Jeremy met God, his life would transform and a leader would be born.
With that as a turning point, Jeremy went on to become a Christian believing that his life is meant to positively influence others. He says, “I want to make somebody’s life different because I’m in it.” In the BACC campus ministry, we believe that God has destined every one us to help specific people in specific ways.
Since then, Jeremy has become a great leader, on and off the field. He has studied the Bible with countless teammates and showed them from personal experience how freeing it is to have a relationship with God and have a purpose much greater than personal success. Jeremy has now graduated, is planning a career in the NFL, and will certainly be spreading the dream of how God brings us together.