July 15, 2018 02:34 PM

Tim Tebow is dating Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters!

PEOPLE has confirmed that the 30-year-old former NFL quarterback, who famously switched from football to baseball, is dating Nel-Peters.

“She is a really special girl and I am very lucky and blessed for her coming into my life,” he tells ESPN

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty; Frazer Harrison/Getty

Over the years, PEOPLE has spent a lot of time with Tebow — on the golf course, in his home, even on a trip to Haiti. Tebow has opened up several times about his search for love.

“I’m looking, but I just can’t seem to find anyone,” he told PEOPLE last spring. “I don’t want to be single; I’m ready to settle down and start a family. I want to have kids. I have so many things I want. No one will be happier than me when I finally find the right person.”

I’m just looking for someone who has a good heart,” he added. “They have to be kind, and they have to care about people who can’t do anything for them in return.”

“They have to really love God,” he continued. “My faith is important to me — it’s the most important thing — and I need to be with someone who also shares that faith.”

“It really has to go deeper than what they look like on the outside,” he said in 2014 when he was named one of PEOPLE’s Sexiest Men Alive. “Of course it’s important to be attracted to someone, but it really needs to be about who they are on the inside.”

Nel-Peters, 23, was crowned Miss Universe 2017. She was born and raised in South Africa but now resides in New York City.

She received her bachelor’s degree in business management from North-West University in South Africa. She’s fluent in both English and Afrikaans.

During the Miss Universe pageant, Nel-Peters said that she wanted to teach self-defense workshops to women — an issue with which she has a personal history. While she was the reigning Miss South Africa, she was carjacked — and the attackers tried to force her into the car. She punched one of them in the throat and escaped.

Next up for Tebow: continuing his baseball season with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, the AA team for the New York Mets.

He’s also looking forward to his upcoming book, This Is the Day, which will be released in September. The tagline reads “Reclaim your dream. Ignite your passion. Live your purpose.” And, of course, he continues his ongoing charitable work of the Tim Tebow Foundation. Last February, the foundation threw its fourth successful Night to Shine, a worldwide prom for people with special needs.

RELATED VIDEO: Tim Tebow helps fan breathe after seizure

“Of course I want to succeed in baseball,” Tebow tells PEOPLE, “but it doesn’t mean anything if I’m not ultimately doing something greater than myself. Our lives should be about bringing faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”

For now, Tebow will move slowly with Nel-Peters and see where things go. “I am usually very private with these things,” he says, “but I am very thankful.”

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