Strong's Faith Helps in Hard Times

To get a sense of how highly regarded fullback Mack Strong is by his Seahawk teammates, he's been voted to receive the Steve Largent Award five times. The honor goes to the player who shows the greatest spirit, dedication and integrity. No other Seahawk has won it more than once.

That spirit was tested to a greater degree during the first weeks of June after Strong and his wife Zoe learned that five members of her family had been killed in a car wreck. The five, ranging in age from 67 down to three, included two aunts and three cousins. All were members of the Nez Perce Tribe and lived in Lapwai, Idaho.

"Ironically, they were on their way to attend a memorial service for another cousin who was killed a year ago in a car accident," Mack Strong said, listing the string of difficult events in the past year. "My wife has been through a lot of grief and a lot of pain. In the fall, she lost an aunt to a house fire. Last spring, a cousin died in a car accident. ... He was the one whose memorial they were going to. Another cousin was out camping and ended up getting separated from the rest of the group and died from hypothermia. These were all people she grew up with."

Strong is in his 15th season in the NFL -- all with the Seahawks.

Nothing prepared him for this.

"I've never experienced loss on that level," he said. "I don't know how anybody can deal with that. Trying to help her through that grief, it was awkward for me. She ran the gamut of emotions; there was time when I think she was numb, in total shock and disbelief."

The Strongs quietly contribute time and money to programs that help causes ranging from local disadvantaged children to Third-World hardships. It's not just showing up as the celebrities at fund-raisers, as they're involved in hands-on tutoring and mentoring.

There's even more to do, now, Strong said.

"Our faith is definitely getting us through this," said. "It's given us great resolve to do all that we can while we have this opportunity to really make a difference. Helping our family and our community is something that really drives us; it's what we're all about in our lives and in our beliefs." Top Stories