Atlanta pastor hopes to inspire others with story of turning his life around

Former NFL player Mayo Sowell is set to open his new church LIIV Atlanta in September
Pastor Mayo Sowell
Pastor Mayo Sowell(Pastor Mayo Sowell)
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 5:55 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A man who formerly played in the NFL and serves as a pastor hopes his personal story of how he turned his life around positively can inspire others around him.

Pastor Mayo Sowell is set to open doors at his LIIV Atlanta (Love Integrity, Influence and Victory), at the City Springs Center in September, and he’s making it known he’s happy to be back to his former roots.

“I used to call this city home. It’s where I met my wife and made some of my life-long friends. But it’s also a city where I experienced tremendous pain in my life that led me down a very troubled path,” says Mayo.

Sowell has found his new calling in Atlanta, but his journey wasn’t easy.

According to officials, Mayo and his wife, Kai, were previously pastors at the Church of the Highlands, Alabama’s largest church.

They previously served on staff for nine years and led the student ministry. But he says they felt “a strong calling that God wanted them to return home to Atlanta and start a new ministry” there.

Mayo says he used to hang around the wrong crowds and sold drugs and committed other crimes when he was younger.

“I tried to keep up with the fast-paced lifestyle of the circles I ran with. I wanted to express success no matter the cost and it led me to sell drugs in the streets and across state lines. I thought I was living the life, but I was so dead on the inside,” he says.

He was arrested after an FBI investigation for intent to distribute drugs and sentenced to five years in federal prison. It was the time he spent behind bars that was the awakening he believes he desperately needed to turn his life around. He says he found his “faith and calling to minister while behind bars. The day I got arrested was the worst day of my life. But God knew what he was doing. He knew that’s what it was going to take to make me see, he had a better plan for me,” he said.