Phil Mulryne used to share a locker room with David Beckham, had a reality TV star girlfriend, and enjoyed all the trappings of being a Manchester United soccer star.

Yet just three years after seeing his career cut short by injuries, the 34-year-old has embarked upon a remarkable career that has taken him far away from the bright lights, big crowds and celebrity lifestyle of a modern soccer player.

Mulryne, who grew up in Northern Ireland and spent his playing career in England, recently moved to Rome -- not to transfer to one of the Italian capital’s famous soccer clubs, but to undergo training to become a Catholic priest.

His extraordinary story was revealed by former teammate Paul McVeigh, who played with Mulryne after he moved from United to Norwich City, and is now a popular media pundit.

"Unfortunately Phil struggled with injuries towards the end of his career," McVeigh said. "(He) decided to stop playing and move back to Belfast and try and decide what he'd do with the rest of his days. To my amazement, and most likely to the rest of the footballing fraternity, Phil decided to train to become a Catholic priest.

Full Story >>

Leigh Dittman has broken 29 bones in her body and endured seven painful surgeries.

She is only 11.

With osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a disorder that causes bones and teeth to become very brittle, Leigh knows she must always be careful -- even during a slumber party with her sisters. One minor wiggle or kick could spell disaster. "I have to place a pillow between us so I don't get hurt," says Leigh, a big sister to Taylor (6) and Skyler (5). "They like to rough-house."

When Leigh was 4 1/2, she already had a metal rod in one of her legs to help prevent injury. But when she tripped on a rug, she broke both femurs. "It actually bent the rod," says Leigh, a lifelong patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children. "The other leg broke all the way through."

Three years ago, the East-West Shrine football game, whose proceeds benefit Shriners Hospital, announced it was moving to a venue near her home in Florida from its previous location in Texas. Leigh, a huge sports fan, jumped at the opportunity to become the hospital's Patient Ambassador at the game. She participated in the official coin toss and met with the college players who were showcasing their talents for NFL scouts. And she got to tell them her story.

Full Story >>

Tim Tebow's Miracle of Mile High last Sunday got armchair conspiracy theorists speculating once again that the Broncos quarterback might be receiving divine help.

Well, he might not be the only one.

Demaryius Thomas, the other half of the dramatic duo that combined to take down the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first overtime play of the AFC wildcard showdown might have, if it's possible, even closer ties with the Almighty than Tebow.

Not only is Thomas -- a second year wide receiver out of Georgia Tech -- a devout Christian who prides himself on personal discipline and charitable works (sound familiar?), he was born on perhaps the most significant calendar date in all Christianity.

As in the one that falls on December 25th.

Full Story >>

There are benefits aplenty to earning an NFL playoff bye: Rest, an easier path to the Super Bowl and time off to rush a fraternity.


Reigning Super Bowl MVP and heavy MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers, along with fellow Packers quarterback Graham Harrell (playing the part of consummate backup on and off the field), spent their bye week Thursday doing the latter, becoming honorary frat brothers in Tau Kappa Epsilon's Sigma-Xi chapter at St. Norbert College in Depere, Wisconsin.

This, apparently, is what you give the guy who has everything.

Full Story >>

On September 27, just days after the LSU Tigers' big win over West Virginia, Alfred Blue III was sitting in class when his phone rang. It was his mother, Erica Clement.

That morning, she sent Alfred's three younger siblings, two sisters and one brother, to school. After putting them on the bus, she left the house to run errands. Sometime while she was gone, the house caught fire.

It started in the back bedroom of the small structure, but the flames rapidly spread from room to room and by the time the firefighters arrived, the home was completely engulfed.

The house was home to not only Blue's mother and siblings, but also his grandmother. She moved in with his family after her husband passed away, because she needed assistance to live her daily life. Blue's aunt and cousins stayed there as well.

Nothing was salvageable. Clothes. Furniture. Pictures. Gone.

Firefighters blamed the blaze on electrical problems, but finding the cause of the fire was not the priority; it was finding a place to live -- again.

This wasn't the first fire for the Blue family.

Alfred was in middle school at the time. His family had just spent the day at the beach. He stuck around with a few cousins while his parents went home to eat dinner. While at home, they had a grease spill on the stove. They left the mess to clean up later.

Full Story >>