When former pro football player Tim Crawford, Jr. and five-time Grammy-winning singer Yolanda Adams got married in 1997, they looked like the perfect couple. Friends and family well attended Their wedding, and they had enough wealth to add luxuries to their special day. If they had chosen to do so.
Crawford and Adams was the new the African-American couple
At the time, negative portrayals of black relationships were common, and the dysfunctional marriage of Bobby Brown and the late Whitney. Houston, or the messy relationship between Mike Tyson and actress Robin Givens, were frequent fodder for gossip magazines and talk shows. Crawford and Adams were the successful couple we needed: attractive, a no-nonsense attitude about business ventures. And they shared a strong affiliation to the spiritual community.
Adams, who is now 60, had been married before she met Crawford, and she has said her former husband was abusive. So when the picture-perfect Crawford at 6’4” (Adams is 6’1”) came into her life, Adams’ history of picking troubled men appeared to be over.
Now she remembers that day with mixed feelings.
“The day I walked down the aisle, and when they opened the door, God told me at the door. ‘Don’t do it,’” Adams told a congregation in 2017 about her choice to marry Crawford. “I paid so much money, the church filled, the hotel had paid for,” she said, fighting back the tears.
“When I made that first step [toward the altar], the Lord said, ‘Ok, you chose him over me.’” She went on, describing the moment years later when she realized she should have listened. When God spoke to her. “God said, ‘I allowed you to go through that… Not that it was my will for you, but you chose this man over my will.’”
Adams ignored God and paid the price
What followed their 1997 wedding was a marriage. That lasted for seven years, during which time their only daughter, Taylor, was born, but a time which seems to have otherwise filled with fear and heartbreak for Adams.
Though Adams has spoken publicly about her feelings about her marriage and her realization, she should not have stayed. Crawford has taken an aloof attitude in public, seemly conformable with the image of a wife batterer. Their daughter plans to attend Howard University, and they now describe themselves as positive co-parents.
Before Crawford and Adams tied the knot, they dated for several years; looking back on how she describes their marriage. One might wonder how Adams didn’t recognize his behaviors long before they got married.
Why Are Some Men Abusive Towards Women and What are Their Personality Types?
A study by some researchers scrutinized the tendencies of abusive men. “The answers to the questions overall showed that there was a positive correlation between abusive behavior and alcoholism, antisocial behavior, depressive symptoms, and financial stress in the perpetrators,” the findings noted. “This could potentially warn women about mates who showcase similar patterns, like men who constantly drink excessively, or who can’t seem to interact effectively with other individuals.”
The truth emerged
Although Crawford, now 59, played professional football for the Cleveland Browns. He was not well-known, having never earned accolades such as a Superbowl title, MVP, TV ads, or endorsements. And now that he is off the field, he prefers anonymity, a choice that Adams made for years, remaining silent about her pain and living in a fictitious world of the perfect marriage. However, pain, depression, and the epidemic of domestic violence were her reality.
“I stand here tonight,” Adams told churchgoers years ago. “When that man’s fist come towards my face, he could not hit me in the face,” she said as tears started to run down her cheeks.
“I know it wasn’t nothing but the lord that moved [Crawford’s] hand over because he only grazed the side of my face,” said the singer, who through it all has remained steadfast in her commitment to the inspiration and uplifted fans with her music.
Lord I pray, speak and declare healing over the land! We are standing & trusting in your promises! Touch the minds & hearts of our church & world leaders! Lord please be with & protect our first responders & their families. Bless those reading this. #BeBlessed — Yolanda Adams (@YolandaAdams) April 5, 2020
“And when he picked me up to throw me onto a marble floor, not a bone broken,” she said cheerfully, although sadness still lines her face. “Nothing physically was wrong with me. That’s why I will go to my grave knowing that God keeps angels–” She stopped midsentence and danced, the holy spirit taking over. The audience cheered wildly in support.
Author Lundy Bancroft provides insight
For reasons of her own, Adams has reticent in sharing further details about what led up to Crawford’s destructive behaviors, and given the lack of detail, fans are left to speculate. In the book Why Does He Do That: Inside the Mind of Angry and Controlling Men, author Lundy Bancroft says there are several reasons abusive men behave as they do:
- He’s controlling.
- He feels entitled.
- He twists things into their opposites; he considers himself superior to her.
- He confuses love and abuse.
- And he is manipulative.
With God’s help, Adams proved stong
The oldest of six kids, Adams has won 16 Stellar Gospel Music Awards, 4 Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards, 1 American Music Award, 7 NAACP Image Awards, 1 Soul Train Music Award, and 5 BET Awards. And yet, she might not be living today had she stayed in that marriage. Unthinkable.
Or worse yet, had she stayed with him, her spiritual, physical, and mental health might have declined too far. And if that were the case, we would never have songs such as Be Blessed, Never Give Up, Open My Heart, Be Still, In the Midst of it All, and many more.
During television interviews, her demeanor is uplifting; her voice, smooth, fabulous, and strong. After she divorced Crawford, her next CD was entitled Through the Storm. Thankfully, Adams has refused to let rainy days turn into deadly storms. She had the strength to leave her abuser, and she has remained fully committed to the journey.
“There’s a lot of people who remain, victims, even after they leave the situation. When I left that situation, the day I got up and left,” she told Rusty Chalfont. “I know I was victorious because nobody but God gave me the strength to get up and get out.”
She went on, describing her marriage to Crawford. “My pain and disobedience to God taught me to never, ever, ever take anybody over God. That’s family, friends, anybody that you hold special. Sometimes God will have you give up a special friendship that you think is so deep for Him to show you what it is really like. And then you make a choice.”
I had the opportunity to see Adams live at a local church in the late ’90s. And her voice was affirming, encouraging, strong, definitive, and unique that night.
She also detailed her abusive marriage with Crawford. Her relationship with her faith is something that fuels her every day. Thankfully—for her and the rest of us–she called on her higher power at the right time.