It’s pretty much inevitable that the spotlight will shine on a celebrity couple for one reason or another. And Tim Tebow can certainly relate to that after he began publicly stepping out with 2017’s Miss Universe, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, in the summer of 2018. But regardless of the glare of fame, when Nel-Peters gave up her crown that December, the former football player sent her a heartfelt message.
Born in August 1987, Tim Tebow had a childhood that was quite different from those of most kids. How so? Well, because he spent his early years living in the Philippines. The ex-NFL star is, you see, the son of two American missionaries, and he grew up with four older siblings. Eventually, though, the Tebows moved back to the States – specifically, to Florida.
Sometime after that, Tebow’s mother started to homeschool her youngest son, which in turn shaped his outlook on life. For one thing, she taught him all about their family’s religious beliefs. And, with that in mind, the Floridian subsequently made a bold decision.
You see, during his teenage years, Tebow returned to the Philippines, and there he continued the work of his parents. Yet while the young man was clearly passionate about helping those in need, he also harbored another ambition that would ultimately change his life forever.
Yes, in 2006 Tebow earned a scholarship at the University of Florida, joining the college football team. An aspiring quarterback, the teenager needed to bide his time at first, though, as he was only considered as a backup during his freshman year. That quickly changed the following season, however.
Tebow went on to become an integral player for the Florida Gators in 2007, earning a place in the team as starting quarterback. Thanks to his impeccable performances on the field, the young athlete also took home several awards that year. And what’s more, these included no less than both the Davey O’Brien Award and the Heisman Trophy.
After also setting several records that season, Tebow enjoyed even more success during his next year with the Gators. That’s right: the star quarterback played a central part in helping his team win the BCS National Championship in 2008. And this in turn led to an incredible opportunity two years later.
Tebow was, in fact, one of the first-round picks in the NFL draft of 2010, with the Denver Broncos signing him on a long-term deal. However, much as with his time in college football, the quarterback didn’t get into the team straight away. Instead, Kyle Orton was the preferred option.
That quickly changed in 2011, though, as Tebow earned a place in the Broncos’ starting line-up ahead of Orton. And after a rocky start to the season, the team eventually made the NFL playoffs, with their quarterback playing a pivotal role. However, the Floridian’s quest to reach the Super Bowl came to an abrupt end in January 2012.
Playing at the Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts, the Broncos faced the New England Patriots for a place in the AFC Championship Game. But unfortunately for Tebow and his teammates, the Patriots ran riot that night, beating Denver 45-10 before going on to the Super Bowl.
Despite that disappointment, however, Tebow’s life away from football proved very exciting around this time. You see, in 2010 the quarterback had set up his own foundation, the Tim Tebow Foundation, to help people in need. And soon afterwards, the man himself offered some insight into his decision.
Referring back to his time in the Philippines as a teenager, Tebow shared a heartwarming story that had inspired him to act. “At the age of 15, I visited a remote village that had never seen visitors,” he wrote on the foundation’s official website. “There I met a boy named Sherwin who would impact my life more than anyone I have ever met.”
“Sherwin was born with his feet on backwards and was viewed as ‘cursed’ in his village,” Tebow continued. “When the people saw me hold Sherwin, they realized that the good news of Jesus Christ applies to everyone. It was then that my passion grew to help people.”
Tebow then looked back at the moment when he had decided to step up. “That’s why in 2010 I was so excited to create the Tim Tebow Foundation,” he added. “With a mission to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”
However, while Tebow’s off-field exploits are certainly hugely commendable, his football career started to falter after the 2012 playoff defeat. Some two months on from that game, the quarterback was, in fact, controversially traded to the New York Jets, where he really struggled for game-time.
Following this less-than-memorable spell, the Jets subsequently released Tebow at the end of the season, leaving his future in limbo. But then, a short while later, he was signed by the New England Patriots – the very team that had dashed his Super Bowl dreams the year before.
After joining the Patriots in June 2013, Tebow played in a couple of preseason games – and yet within three months he was packing his bags once more. A decision by the NFL at the time meant that all of its teams were required to trim their rosters. And, unfortunately, the former Bronco was among those to be cut.
Tebow then went on to become a pundit for ESPN’s college football coverage before in 2015 signing a short-term deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. One year later, though, he made an announcement that shocked the American sports-loving public. The former quarterback wanted to pursue a new career in baseball.
Then, after a period spent with the New York Mets’ major league camp in 2018, Tebow made another big announcement to the world. Following rumors, he revealed that he is in a relationship with Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – 2017’s Miss Universe.
The sports star certainly seemed smitten. “[Nel-Peters] is a really special girl, and I am very lucky and blessed for her coming into my life,” Tebow told ESPN of his burgeoning romance in July 2018. “I am usually very private with these things, but I am very thankful.”
Born in June 1995, Nel-Peters grew up in the Western Cape province of South Africa under the guardianship of her parents, Anne-Mari Steenkamp and Bennie Peters. Then, following a stint during her teenage years as the Junior Deputy Mayor of George, Western Cape, the young woman opted to pursue a college degree.
On the back of her studies at North-West University, Nel-Peters graduated with a degree in business management – before turning her attention to something new. Yes, in March 2017 the young woman participated in the Miss South Africa beauty pageant. And despite facing plenty of competition, she went on to claim the illustrious crown to boot.
However, a traumatic experience lay in wait. Soon after claiming the title, Nel-Peters was carjacked by a group of armed men in Johannesburg, South Africa. And even though the pageant winner quickly handed the vehicle over, the drama didn’t end there. You see, it’s reported that one of the men tried to force her back into the car – before she managed to fight him off and flee the scene.
In spite of that harrowing ordeal, however, Nel-Peters stayed strong and went on to compete in 2017’s Miss Universe pageant. The competition took place in the glitz of Las Vegas. And there, the newly crowned Miss South Africa faced more than 90 rivals from around the world.
After completing the Q&A section of the pageant, Nel-Peters was ultimately declared the winner, though, seeing off competition from the representatives of Colombia and Jamaica at the end. And following her victory, the new Miss Universe would move to New York, which coincided with her meeting Tebow in 2018.
“It’s wonderful to be able to share my life experiences with somebody who’s so understanding and supportive,” Nel-Peters said when talking about her romance with the former quarterback to Fox News in December 2018. “He supports me in everything that I do. He’s just the sweetest person ever, and it’s such an honor for me to be able to get to share my experiences with him.”
Nel-Peters then also reflected on her final days as Miss Universe – with the 2018 pageant taking place later that month. “It’s definitely a bittersweet moment,” she continued. “This was just a once-in-a-lifetime year and opportunity. And the experience is one where I have made many fond memories.”
“It’s sad to say goodbye, but in the same sense, I’ve always known this day will come,” Nel-Peters added. “I have already made plans for the future, so I think the hardest thing right now is packing up!” As the previous Miss Universe winner, she was also to crown her successor at the end of the 2018 event, which took place in Thailand.
Nel-Peters’ next words then spoke volumes about her love for the international pageant. “I’m just really excited to meet the next Miss Universe and welcome her,” she told Fox News. “This show has a special place in my heart, and I want to help make that moment just as special for the next girl.”
So, as the 2018 pageant came to a close that December, the new Miss Universe was announced to the world. And in a notable twist, given Nel-Peters’ relationship with Tebow, her successor hails from the Philippines. Her name is Catriona Gray, and she actually became the country’s fourth Miss Universe winner.
Meanwhile, after ceding the Miss Universe title, Nel-Peters received a heartfelt message from her boyfriend on social media. “You represented Miss Universe so well!” Tebow wrote on Instagram in December 2018. “You’re an incredible role model and carry yourself with beauty, kindness and grace. I’m so proud of you!”
Tebow’s emotional post certainly seemed to strike a chord on the social media website, garnering more than 170,000 likes. And in addition, the message prompted over 1,000 comments from online users, most of them heaping praise upon the famous couple.
Meanwhile, following her victory, 2018’s Miss Universe took to Instagram, where she posted a picture of Nel-Peters handing over the crown. Much like Tebow, Gray, too, wrote a heartwarming message as she reflected on everything that had happened in Thailand that night.
“When I was 13, my mom told me, ‘Honey, I dreamt of you winning Miss Universe in a red dress,’” Gray remembered on Instagram in December 2018. “At that time I thought nothing of it, and today my mother’s dream came true. Where do I even begin?”
“Lord God, I lift everything up to you – to glorify and honor you,” Gray continued. “Philippines, what an amazing honor it has been to carry your name across my chest and to embody you in all aspects. I may now carry the sash of Miss Universe, but I’ll forever be your Miss Philippines.”
On that note, Gray concluded the message by thanking everyone on her team. And she showed how much she appreciated all the hard work that they had done before the show. “I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this [without] all your time, effort and love,” she said.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Gray’s Instagram post went viral, with the message attracting close to two million likes on the social media platform. Her words also generated more than 50,000 comments from online users as people flocked to congratulate the new Miss Universe.
“My husband watched a pageant for the first time, and it was because he was mesmerized by your totality,” commented one smitten admirer. “I told him you will win as Miss Universe, and I was absolutely right. God bless and be with you always, Catriona.”
Those kind words were in turn echoed by another Instagram user, who also hailed one aspect of Gray’s performance in particular. “Huge congratulations Catriona!” they wrote. “[You] truly deserve to be Miss Universe. I love the way you walk. Stunning ramp walk it was.”
Much like Nel-Peters before her, Gray subsequently moved to New York after her win, arriving in the city in January 2019. Since then, she’s also shared her journey on social media, allowing fans to catch a glimpse of her new lifestyle. And as proven by her predecessor’s romance with Tebow, anything can happen when you’re Miss Universe.