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Top NFL Draft Pick Amari Cooper on His Christian Upbringing: 'I Was Taught to be Hungry and Humble'

( [email protected] ) Jan 16, 2015 01:21 PM EST

Amari Cooper
The Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) takes a moment after catching a pass for a touchdown. He said his experience has made him 'more mature, a better person, a better Christian.' Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

University of Alabama junior and outspoken Christian Amari Cooper is unanimously thought of as the top Wide Receiver prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft.  

The 20 year old, 6'1 Florida native recently won the prestigious Biletnikoff Award for the nation's most outstanding receiver and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He also is credited for breaking multiple school records, becoming Alabama's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.

As he prepares to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, Cooper recently shared how his experience as a college football player not only improved his athletic ability, but strengthened his Christian faith.

"I came here as a 17 year old who wanted nothing more than to play football at a high level," Cooper said on Friday after thanking God for allowing him to make the "right decision" in attending the University of Alabama.

"But in the process, I have become more mature, a better person, a better Christian. [I want to] thank everyone who has been a great influence on my life since I've been here. [Alabama Head Coach] Saban, his staff, everybody."

For Cooper, success has not come without struggle. Raised with his four siblings in a poor section of Coconut Grove by his mother, Michelle Green, the athlete was exposed to hardship from a young age.

"It was real tough," he told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi, "my mom sometimes didn't have ways to provide for us...she raised us by herself."

Cooper credits his mother, who worked multiple jobs to provide for her children, for his impressive work ethic, which he describes as "second to none."

"[My mother taught me] to be a hard worker. And she didn't just sit me down and tell me this. I saw it with my own eyes. She's a very hard worker."

"I was taught to be hungry and humble," he added, "when you're hungry you always want more, when you've done something, you feel like you've done nothing because you're focused on more."

When asked to break down his athletic ability, Cooper does not hesitate, asserting that his speed and size are "God-given."

As he anticipates a future career in the NFL, Alabama's most decorated Wide Receiver says his faith will continue to drive his future successes, both personally and professionally.

"As far as my personal growth, my faith has been tested many times," Cooper said. "I've faced adversity a lot, but I remain faithful. So if you remain faithful, and you don't quit, I believe that the Lord will bless you in all things. That's how my faith system works."