CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - Panthers quarterback Cam Newton caused a stir on social media Tuesday by posting his own mugshot on Instagram and giving thanks that he turned his life around.
Media outlets around the nation called the move "inspirational," including BleacherReport.com, which referred to the post as "a redemption story."
The post, which got more than 200,000 likes in 17 hours, marked the nine-year anniversary of Newton's arrest for stealing a laptop while he was backup quarterback at the University of Florida. He admits in the post that he thought his life and career were over, not to mention the shame he caused his family.
Newton was charged with felony counts of burglary, larceny and obstructing justice on Nov. 21, 2008, reported ESPN. A police report said he threw the laptop, valued at $1,700, out of his dormitory window when officers came to investigate the theft, said ESPN. He was suspended from the team while being held in jail. The charges ultimately were dropped.
"I contemplated posting this and even reluctant about it but as I think about my life and the many things I'm thankful for, I want to be an open book so many people can (hear) my testimony and learn from flaws and mistakes I made on this day 11/21/ 2008. I was arrested for a stolen laptop and I'm sure you're asking yourself where is he going with this story but the moral of the story is this . . . on this date I thought my life and my career was over and the fact that I had shamed my family with the media coverage surrounding this situation I vowed to myself on this day (9 yrs ago) that 'I will be better from this situation.' What you must learn from this story is this; if you live your life listening to what other people are saying what you should do and not your own, shame on you! I can honestly say to you today that no one gave me a chance to succeed down bad in my situation and if I would have listened to those people that said I can't, who knows where I would be today. So I'm extremely thankful for God's mercy, grace and favor over my life, so if I can do it with my circumstances surely you can do it and be whatever you want to be with hard work and persistence."
He added a side note: "People wonder why I play the game the way I do, act the way I act, dress the way I dress, and even live the way I live because in some people's eyes I'm not supposed to be here, but in my eyes I'm not going to have any regrets with the second chance God has given me.
The post won praise from news outlet and on social media:
"Man, the ripple effects from a post like this," wrote David Phillips on Instagram. "At some point, life will throw everyone a curve ball. It's how you respond that makes the difference...Someone's life will probably never be the same after reading it."
"I respect you for doing this," wrote T. Tyson.