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McPherson grew up on Long Island. He attended the University of New Haven, where he majored in engineering. McPherson was the university's first player to achieve All-American honors in football and be drafted into the NFL. He was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Rams; he was cut and went on to play defensive back for the San Diego Chargers.
After battling a drug problem, McPherson became a born again Christian in 1984, and began participating in religious outreach programs. In September 1986, he retired from football; the next week, he enrolled in Azusa Pacific University's School of Theology. He received his Master of Divinity degree in 1991.
In 1992, McPherson founded "Miles Ahead", a non-profit international evangelical organization.
McPherson spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention and was an advocate of Prop 8, during the 2008 elections. During the Miss USA 2009 controversy involving Carrie Prejean, a member of his church, McPherson appeared on Larry King Live, The O'Reilly Factor, and other national news networks.
McPherson is the author of several books, of which the best known is Do Something! Make Your Life Count. He earned an Emmy Award in 2007 as the producer of Master Meth, a documentary on methamphetamine.