by Stephen Simpson
Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2007

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA QUARTERBACK JOHN DAVID BOOTY ON THE VALUE OF INTEGRITY, HARD WORK, FAITH, AND FAMILY

 
John David BootyIn the Autumn 1999 issue of One-to-One magazine, we featured two brothers who were playing football together for Louisiana State University, Josh and Abram Booty. Josh, the team’s quarterback, and Abram, one of the wide receivers, talked with us about life, family, faith, and football, and shared some inspiring principles for persevering and overcoming tests and trials. During my conversations with each of them back then, they each said to me, “Well, we’re both pretty good, but you really need to keep an eye on our little brother John David. He’s going to do something special!”

They were being very modest about themselves, but Josh and Abram weren’t kidding about JD.

Recent years have certainly proven them correct, as John David Booty today is one of the most celebrated and successful quarterbacks in all of college football, leading a great team with a rich tradition-the University of Southern California Trojans. Recently, he shared some thoughts with us that we wanted to pass along to our readers.

A RICH HERITAGE

John David is the son of John and Sonya Booty of Shreveport, LA, whose lives have literally blessed thousands of people and who have been instrumental in encouraging and discipling young people as followers of Jesus Christ. This selfless family has modeled commitment to the Lord through the decades, and John and Sonya have clearly passed on their dedication and determination to their four sons, including JD’s younger brother Jake.

One of the unique aspects of JD’s story is that after a stellar high school championship athletic career through his junior year, circumstances arose that necessitated him making a change in schools. After much prayer, counsel, and work, he made the bold step of graduating a year early in 2003 and enrolling at USC, which in this decade has won or shared three national championships in football, and has produced three Heisman Trophy winners: Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush.

After Leinart won the 2004 Heisman in his junior season and USC won the national championship that same season, many experts predicted that Leinart would skip his senior year and enter the National Football League draft. John David Booty was the heir apparent at quarterback, and conventional wisdom was that he would be at the helm for the 2005 season. However, Leinart surprised everyone by returning for his senior year and quarterbacking the team all the way to another National Championship game, where USC lost in a thrilling duel with the Vince Young-led Texas Longhorn squad.

When the 2006 season kicked off, JD was the man behind center; he started every game, and he was one of the nation’s leading passers as USC finished a very strong 11-2, defeating Michigan in the Rose Bowl on the wings of JD’s 4 TD tosses. He was named first team QB on the All Pac-10 team. He entered 2007 with high team and personal expectations.(As of this writing, USC’s record stands at 7-2, and JD has just resumed playing after missing three games with a broken finger.)

LOOKING FORWARD

While JD has had to overcome much adversity in order to achieve what he has done thus far, his faith has remained strong and his vision remains focused forward. I asked him what it was like to be raised in a home of high achievers and what role that played in keeping him motivated. “The biggest thing is what I’ve learned from my two brothers who have gone before me,” John David said. “I’ve seen how hard they have worked and things that they have gone through, and I’ve taken those to heart. When things they’ve dealt with have come up in my career, it’s helped me handle them better.”

Speaking of the strong way that his family has encouraged and stood with him through the years,
JD says, “I couldn’t imagine it any other way. They’ve been so supportive, especially with me going halfway across the country to go to college. It’s not easy for them, me being so far away. For the first several years, they only made it to two or three games, which couldn’t have been easy. But still, they’ve been there, and their support made the transition a lot easier.”

Whenever adversity and tests have come his way, JD says that he’s persevered, “by knowing what my dream was and not letting anything get in the way of it. My faith has played a big part. Being raised in a Christian household, you grow up understanding the importance of what it is to have faith. And when things aren’t going your way, or get tough, I know where to turn.”

Watching his parents and his brothers, JD understands the value of heritage–the costs and sacrifices that are necessary for excellence and achievement. These lessons stood him in good stead when he stepped onto the USC Trojan football field, where some of the greatest players in college football history have stood. I asked JD what it means to him to be a part of that legacy. His humble response was telling: “It means everything to me. Since I was a little boy, playing at a major university was one of my dreams. I didn’t know when I signed with USC that it would turn out quite the way it did, that I’d be playing with two Heisman Trophy winners in Matt and Reggie, it’s been an almost unreal. I cherish every minute of it.”

Not surprisingly, JD describes his personal mission statement as “Work hard, have integrity. I want to be the guy that people know they can come to.” And, to other young people approaching college and career, he offers this advice: “Again, it’s important to work hard and stay focused. Have big goals and keep striving toward them. College provides all kinds of opportunities, so students who are getting ready to start should be open to trying and learning as many things as possible.”

In an age when athletes are under the microscope on and off the field, John David Booty has quietly but clearly provided leadership–not only as an elite quarterback, but as a man. His example and the principles he lives out will work for anybody, whether on the field, in the classroom, in the marketplace, in the family, or in the community.