Merril Hoge has faced plenty of adversity in his life.
The ESPN football analyst, former NFL running back, and cancer survivor found many sources for inspiration throughout his life, and he used sheer determination to achieve his goals.
At the Lutcher Theater in Orange on Tuesday night, Hoge shared his story of how he beat the odds in a speech titled “Find a Way.”
Part of Lamar State College-Orange’s Distinguished Lecture Series, Hoge told anecdotes about his childhood, his time in the National Football League, and his battles with chemotherapy. His goal, he said, was inspire the audience to apply his experiences in their lives.
“They’re life skills and lessons that I took from people,” he said. “Hopefully people can take that and use it.”
The event was paid for by the college’s student activity program through student fees. LSC-O President Michael Shahan introduced Hoge to the audience after thanking the employees and programs that orchestrated the event.
“Our purpose for doing this is to expose students and the community to individuals who are making a difference in our world,” he said. “None of us are too old for new ideas and new perspectives.”
Hoge began by talking about the first time he saw a football game on television when he was eight years old, and how he immediately knew he wanted to play in the NFL. He refused to take no for an answer and began posting goals to reach his dream on his bedroom wall.
When researching his favorite player, running back Walter Payton, Hoge stumbled across some unlikely inspiration. It was a quote from Aristotle: “ We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
“You don’t just stumble out of bed one day and suddenly become great,” Hoge said.