Former NFL player Tommie Harris opened up about the tragic circumstances surrounding the sudden death of his wife, just 41 days after their marriage, as well as the death of his four-month-old daughter.
In a new interview on Fox Nation’s Ainsley’s Bible Study, Harris – a former Chicago Bears defensive tackle – told host Ainsley Earhardt about the two tragedies that marked his life and how they actually strengthened his faith in God.
‘I look at a miracle every day when I look in the mirror and see that I’m not in a straitjacket or [have] lost my mind for what I’ve been through,’ Harris, 36, told Earhardt.
Former Chicago Bears star Tommie Harris (pictured) talked about the tragic 2012 death of his new wife, followed by the sudden passing of his four-month-old daughter four years later
The couple had only been married for 41 days when Ashley had a brain aneurysm during a surgery. Harris is pictured at left with Ashley. Ashley and one of their children is at right
During the interview, Harris recounted how, in 2012, just 41 days after they’d been married on New Year’s Day, his 29-year-old wife, Ashley Harris, died after going in for a breast reduction surgery in preparation for their big summer wedding celebration.
Harris, then 28, said that he was on an airplane, flying to his Texas hometown to watch his sister in a play, while Ashley, the mother of his two children, was having her operation.
He said he was chatting away with his seatmate, ‘never knowing that when we land, I would get a phone call that said my wife stopped breathing on the table and I needed to hurry up and get to Oklahoma.’
He turned around and flew back to Oklahoma, where Ashley – who he met in college – had been having her surgery, not realizing that ‘My wife was dead when I got there.’
Harris said that he wasn’t told for three days that his wife had died from a sudden brain aneurysm, but was being kept on life support so that her organs could be harvest for donation.
Harris said that he had been on a plane to Texas when he heard that Ashley had stopped breathing on the operating table. They are pictured together here in 2011
Harris (in 2004) said he waited four years to get into another relationship and had a daughter with another woman. Their four-month-old child then died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Harris (left in 2009 and right in 2018) said that both tragedies strengthened his faith in God and were meant to show him how valuable life is and how quickly ‘the game can change’
He said he only found out on the internet, as he watched people ‘come in and out of the room and run around.’
‘I had to pull a cord at 28, having millions of dollars, and nothing could help me at that moment. I lost all purpose for finances, for everything,’ Harris recalled.
‘That was the biggest time I believe my faith was tested, and I remember pulling the cord and I told God to let His will be done in my life.’
As if that wasn’t enough tragedy in his life, Harris also talked about the heartbreaking moment, years later, when he realized his infant daughter suddenly died.
‘I waited four years later to get back into a relationship and me and another woman, we end up having a kid,’ Harris said.
‘And four months later, we walked in the room and she [had] passed away of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,’ Harris told Ainsley.
Harris said that he believes that two tragic incidents prove that ‘God is speaking to me to show people how valuable life is and at any moment the game can change. So are you playing your hardest at every moment?’
Harris also noted that his personal experience with and his faith have led him to try to do more to help others who need it.
He pointed to a particular memory that continues to inspire him today.
‘I remember walking in the airport after I lost my wife, and I was about 300 pounds and I was just crying, walking through the airport,’ Harris said.
‘And I wanted someone to hold me, hug me or to notice me. But I realized at that moment that everyone was on their own schedules and nothing stops for anyone.’
Because of that moment, he said now ‘when I go to the airport, my head is on a swivel. I’m looking for the slumped-over shoulders. I’m looking for the guy that may not look approachable, but I know he needs a hug. I’ve learned from that situation to take it and help serve someone else.’