“KU, there is no better place to play basketball.”
Besides playing basketball, loving God and living every day with a godly perspective is what Christian Garrett does at Kansas University. A freshman guard originally from Los Angeles, California, Christian went to school at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida, his senior year. He played his sophomore year at Campbell Hall High in North Hollywood, California, and his junior season at Stone Ridge Prep in Tarzana, California. Christian joined the KU team last year on January 21, 2010.
Christian credits God with bringing him to Kansas University. In the fall of 2010, while still at IMG, he sought a school where he could start early, begin working out, and get better prepared for the game. Christian had scholarship offers from Alabama, North Carolina State and Harvard, but when he had the opportunity to visit KU, he felt that God led him to this place. It was a big step of faith from a young man from California, but for Christian it has been an extraordinary experience. Christian knew that KU’s program was one of the top in history of sports; however, until he visited the campus he didn’t realize what being a Jayhawk all is about.
Christian said, “Playing for the Jayhawks is awesome. The coaching staff is great, the environment is great, everyone works hard, and the fans love it.”
Lawrence is home away from home for Christian, as his mother Cynthia Garrett moved there with him. He stated that the difference between LA and Lawrence is that Kansas people are friendlier. Also, he likes the area where Lawrence and Kansas City are located.
Having been taken to church at an early age by his mother who was strong in her own faith, Christian grew up a Christian. Though he attended church from childhood, he didn’t actually comprehend what it was all about until he got older. During his junior year of High School, Christian started getting closer to God, began understanding more about Him, and realized the importance of living a Christian life. It was then that he rededicated his life to God and began his spiritual growth. “There is so much to learn, and its unsearchable how much there is to know right in front of you.” Through continued studies of the boundless riches of Christ, he has continued to mature in his spiritual walk with the Lord.
Though it was his mother who introduced him to church, the one who inspired him and instilled faith in him was his step-father, Roger Charles. Christian talked about his step-dad’s spiritual journey, and how God put him there to answer Christian’s questions and to guide him in the right way. “At the same time you have to credit God, the way he puts people or situations in your life, that you see his hand on you the whole time.” While his step-dad greatly influenced his earlier spiritual growth, both parents continue to encourage him in his walk with Christ. Christian also gives credit to the Lord for having his hand on him.
“As I grow, all I can see is that it is all Him leading it.”
In Kansas City, Missouri, Christian attends IHOP, not the International House of Pancakes but the International House of Prayer. IHOP has been an enormous blessing for Christian since he came to KU.
In Calabasas, California, Christian attended True Love Worship Center where Mark Jackson, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, is the minister. Christian had attended there since his junior year of High School when he sincerely began living his life for the Lord.
As a child, Christian placed more emphasis on sports and less on faith, often choosing athletics over God. When he began to mature spiritually, God opened up his heart and transformed him. He gave his life to God and got his priorities straight in all aspects of his life. While growing up, sports were chosen before God, but now they go hand in hand.
Personally, being a Christian athlete is not hard for Christian. His teammates know that he is a Christian. But, more importantly, they know that he doesn’t just say he is a Christian, they recognize that he lives his life for Jesus. “I have been showing some fruit of doing what I should be doing.” Christian seeks to be a light to his teammates and to be obedient to what the Lord wants him to do. “We are all just one big family, which is awesome.”
In some ways, basketball was like an idol, but God used it to turn Christian’s life to Him. Through basketball, Christian’s faith has grown. On and off the court, Christian lives his life the same way. He constantly strives to walk with the Spirit and to be obedient to what God is saying. “There is so much throughout the day that God wants to get done, wants to speak to you about, and wants to be involved in.” Christian wants to show his love for God in every possible way. “I just want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and all my strength.” In the past, being on the bench and playing little in a game would have been tough for Christian, but now he has a different mindset. He focuses on God, His purposes, and what He is doing in Christian’s life. “God has a plan for everything. He led us here, and I don’t have to worry about that. It all takes care of itself.”
While visiting with him, Christian taught me that I need to keep a godly perspective on all facets of my life. Christian is an example for all of us to love God with everything we have and to keep our focus on Him every step of our journey. For any Christian athlete, it is hard to live a Christian life with temptations all around you. “Temptation is always there because of the world we live in, but as you are focused on the Lord there’s no time to even take notice of it.” The greatest weapon against falling into temptation is prayer. Prior to each game, Christian prays and reads the Bible. He spends the time getting his mind right and focusing on Jesus. Also, before every game, the entire team prays together and repeats the Lord’s Prayer, a tradition at KU. Moreover, they get together to pray when other challenges arise. With all of them focused on Jesus, they will grow both individually and as a team.
FOE, Family Over Everything, is the motto of the Jayhawks. They are one big family, one that works hard and one always together. “It’s kind of a big part of Kansas basketball, between the coaches, coaching staff, and everyone, and the players.” Kevin Young and Jeff Withey have a faith similar to Christian’s, and they often study the Bible together. Jordan Juenemann and Christian have been close from the beginning, crediting God with leading them in the same direction. Christian shares his faith with his all his teammates, and God has often used Christian’s parents in reaching out to the players, praying with them, helping them grow in their way of thinking, and aiding in their healing. God is most assuredly working in the lives of the KU players.
The most powerful verse that has empowered Christian in his walk is 1 John 4:9-10:
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
“It is not a thing that we do, or set of rules, or a lifestyle, but it’s just a reality that God really does love us, each and every single one of us. How could you not show that love back?” Knowing that love, and that it means is so much more than what the world says love is, has truly changed Christian’s life. The power of that love has been huge for Christian.
Christian gave me three pieces of advice for my ten-year-old son who plays fourth grade basketball. The most obvious one is to keep working hard, be committed, and stick to it. Secondly, watch players in college, the NBA, and on Youtube or videos and study their style and how they shoot. The last but not least bit of advice is to talk to God and give everything over to Him. Ask God for guidance in all things and remain faithful to Him. When I closed the interview with Christian, I realized that one day I want my son to see the love of God like Christian does. Christian is a remarkable young man who loves God with all of his heart, keeps a godly perspective on everything in his life, and still gets to play basketball for Kansas. He is an excellent example for me and for my sons. I appreciate Christian for taking time out of his busy schedule to share with me his spiritual journey. I’m also thankful for his mother who has inspired me and has prayed for me as well. She made one comment to me in a tweet the other day that really made me think. She said, “We are all just normal folk, and Jesus is the real star!” Well, Roger and Cynthia, you have a real star in Christian who is shining the real star, Jesus, in his life on the KU Campus.