Having kids is still a ways off for Tim Tebow, but he has some definite plans on how it’ll happen.
“When I have a family someday, I’ll probably adopt,” he tells PEOPLE. “Adoption has always been something close to my heart. There are so many kids out there who really need a family.”
PEOPLE spent several hours on the golf course with the 26-year-old football player on Saturday, where he was headlining the Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic, which included stars like Rob Schneider, Alfonso Ribeiro, Emmitt Smith, Kim Alexis and professional golfer Bubba Watson. The event raised more than $1.1 million for the foundation.
While he waits for marriage and children, Tebow says he’s content to help other families adopt. Last year, he expanded his Foundation to include Orphan Care, a program that provides grants to families adopting children with special needs.
“I believe that everyone, regardless of who they are, should do something that is greater than themselves,” says Tebow, a devout Christian. “Whether it’s adoption, or helping people who are sick, or poor, or whatever. That’s what God put us on this earth to do.”
Celebrity and Charity
Wherever Tebow goes, an excited crowd follows. During the tournament, he affably interacted with fans. Everyone from children to grandmothers snapped photos with him, although there seemed to be a high concentration of pretty blondes.
Tebow wasn’t entirely comfortable with the attention.
“For me, life isn’t about being recognized or having everyone know who I am,” he said with a sheepish smile. “That’s not why I’m here. To me, my foundation is the most important thing I do, or have ever done. That’s what my life is about.”
In addition to the adoption aid program, The Tim Tebow Foundation grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, builds “Timmy’s Playrooms” in children’s hospitals around the world, and has built a five-story hospital in Davao City, Philippines.
“All of that work is much more important than being a celebrity,” he says.
Adds Tebow’s close friend and golfing buddy, Dave Slott: “Tim is a really humble guy with a good heart. He’s just a generous guy who wants to help people.”
Tebow tells PEOPLE that his passion for helping others comes from his upbringing. The son of missionaries to the Philippines, he is the result of a very difficult pregnancy.
“For a while, they didn’t even know if I was a baby; they thought I might be a tumor. So my brothers used to call me ‘Timmy the Tumor’ when I was little. Because of course they did; that’s what brothers do.” He stops to sink a putt.
“But, you know, miracles happen every day, and I turned out healthy. That’s sort of what my [charity] work is all about: helping people find those miracles.”
Return to Football
Of course, the big question is whether Tebow will return to football. After being cut by the New England Patriots last year, he spent the season planning his next move – and signing a multiyear deal to work as an ESPN analyst.
“Of course I want to play ball again,” he says. “I’m training really hard for that, just about every day. I really feel like I’m at the best I’ve ever been. It’s something that I’m really passionate about, playing football. I’m always looking to improve my skills.”
“But I’m even more passionate about my foundation and the difference that we’re making all around the world,” he continues. “That’s what gets me excited. That’s what it’s all about. I want to improve as a football player, but even more importantly, I really want to improve as a person.”