With all the negative publicity that surrounds many sports icons, it is refreshing to hear from some that walk the talk of their faith and are able to keep their fame in check.
Here are just some of the more inspiring ones:
Chris Paul: Saying Prayers
A player for the Los Angeles Clippers since 2011, Paul was born and raised in the Baptist church where he can still be found on Sunday mornings if a practice hasn’t been scheduled. Devastated by the murder of his grandfather years ago, Paul has a ritual before each game, and up until February of last year, it was somewhat of a secret. He told the LA Times:
I say a prayer — and I’ve never told anyone this before — but this is how it goes: I begin by thanking God for bringing our team here safely; their team as well. And I tell God, “I know you know already who the winner is, but I ask that you will let it be us.” I thank him for my entire family back home, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and I thank him for my parents, brother, wife and son. Then I say, “My Lord, I want to thank you for Papa Chili and my Grandma Rachel. I know they are in heaven smiling down on me.” That’s how I end the prayer every time.
Kevin Durant: Not Letting Success to His Head
Impressively, Durant won the 2008 NBA Rookie of the Year title as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics. When the team moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder, Durant won back-to-back scoring titles in 2010 and 2011. Despite his success, he is still able to stay grounded.
I always kind of pinch myself and say that any day this can be gone. In the Bible, (it says) the Lord exalts humility and that’s one thing I try to be all the time — when I’m talking in front of people or when people tell me I’m great, I (remind myself that I) can always be better. I always work on what I have now. I’ve just got to be thankful to the Lord for what the gifts He’s given me.
My gift back to Him is to always be humble and to always try to work as hard as I can. I’ve got to continue to be that way. I know that if I try to get a big head, my mom is going to do a great job of bringing me back down to size. I have the best of both worlds with the coaches we have here and my parents and my family doing it back at home. I’m in pretty good hands.
(Durant was recently spotted at a Hillsong United concert in Hollywood, CA. It’s inspiring to know that even one of the best basketball players in the world joins in amazing worship events that glorify Jesus.)
Dwyane Wade: On Being a Role Model
Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat has had more than his share of ups and downs through the years, including the divorce of his parents and then his own divorce from his wife in 2008. He also experienced the pain of seeing his mother go to prison for selling drugs. However, that is in the past and he now focuses on the future. For instance, his mother turned her life around and pastors her own church. Wade is a firm believer in being a role model for kids.
Kids need someone they can dream about becoming. I want to be that person now that I’m in a position to be a positive role model … I try to tell kids that there are going to be people in your life that try to tell you that you can’t do something,” said Wade. “There were people in my life who told me that I couldn’t make it to this point in the NBA. I believed in God, myself and my abilities to get to this point. Always believe in yourself no matter what anyone may say to you.
Nate Robinson: Sticking it Through
Originally from Seattle, Wash., Nate Robinson is known for being the NBA’s first three-time slam dunk champion. He’s also known for being the shortest player in NBA history. Standing at just 5 ft. 9 in., Robinson has played for the Boston Celtics (2010), Oklahoma City Thunder (2011), Golden State Warriors (2012), Chicago Bulls (2012-2013) and most recently signed on to the Denver Nuggets. Over the years, he has been stepped on, sat on and sent out for stitches, but each time has come back fighting.
“God blessed me with a lot of heart and no height and I’ll take that any day,” said Robinson.
Jeremy Lin: Living a Life of Uncertainty
It has been said that nothing in Houston Rockets’ Jeremy Lin’s career has been certain, except for his outspoken faith in God. He received no athletic scholarship out of high school, was undrafted out of Harvard University, played only sparingly in 2010 and then unexpectedly rose to stardom with the New York Knicks in 2011.
The following season, Lin signed a 3-year 25 million dollar contract with the Rockets. He is one of the few Asian American players to play in the NBA and was recently featured in the documentary, Linsanity which has been shown at major film festivals such as Sundance and SXSW.
“There is so much temptation to hold on to my career even more now,” said Lin. “To try to micromanage and dictate every little aspect. But that’s not how I want to do things anymore. I’m thinking about: How can I trust God more? How can I surrender more? How can I bring him more glory? It’s a fight. But it’s one I’m going to keep fighting.”