I have been blessed to follow Julian Wright through his college years at Kansas and now to talk to him via twitter and e-mail. Julian played for the Kansas Jayhawks from 2005-2007 and decided to enter the NBA draft in 2007 where he was drafted 13th overall by the New Orleans Hornets. Julian played for the Hornets, Raptors and the Toros of the D-League, He currently plays for the Maccabi Rishon LeZion professional basketball team in Israel.
The past few weeks he has really encouraged me by his quotes on twitter and his videos on you tube. I tweeted him and asked him if he would be willing to do an interview with me and he said, sure why not. I sent him an e-mail with the following questions and he was willing to answer them all. Hopefully after you read his answers you will be blessed to know that Julian is a god fearing man and let his answers encourage you to tell your story of how Christ has changed your life.
I loved to watch him play both in College and in the pros. He sent this e-mail to me via his i-phone which to me is pretty cool.
“I’m honored that you reached out to me. We all have a story and I just want to be bold and let my light shine as bright as it can, in the midst of this dark world. Times are rapidly changing and we have to be watchful and guard our hearts and conscious daily.”
Stay encouraged friend,
Tell me a little about yourself-where u from?
My full name is Julian Emil-Jamaal Wright and I’m twenty five years old. I was born in Chicago and eventually lived in Chicago Heights, a south suburban city of Chicago.
What made you go to Kansas?
The reason I decided to play for Coach Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks is because of their storied program as well as his straightforwardness in assuring me that I’d have to work for my playing time. However, I knew with four seniors leaving, I’d have a legitimate shot at playing and hopefully continuing the legacy of dominance.
How did it feel to be a Jayhawk?
It felt great then, and it feels great to be a Jayhawk! It is a family atmosphere and it was as if it expedited me into becoming a well-rounded young man. I learned many life lessons while playing in Lawrence, Kansas, and I cherish all of my memories.
How does it feel to play basketball in Israel?
It’s been an exciting experience playing in Israel. I’m starting to get used to the playing style out here and I’m also learning Hebrew, which has been a lot of fun!
Do you miss the NBA? Do you want to play in the NBA again?
I miss the level of play, in terms of the NBA style of play, but as a professional I’m grateful to be playing a child’s game for paychecks. I wouldn’t mind returning to the NBA someday. I think I have the skill-set but I’ll just need the repetitions to match my once again, found confidence.
Game day ritual:
I am not a really superstitious person so I’d just say my game day ritual consists of praying that nobody gets hurt.
Can you tell be about your Spiritual Journey in life:
My spiritual journey has been filled with ups and downs, as almost everybody’s is, I’m sure. For many years, I’d been what you would call, a carnal minded saint. I had truly believed in Jesus but I wouldn’t allow Him to truly transform my life into a new creature in Him. I have no regrets though, because I’ve looked my experiences as a way to help others hopefully not make the same mistakes I have made.
When did you start your journey with Christ?
I can say I truly gave myself to Christ when I was seventeen years old. I grew up going to church services ever since I was born but I had to come to know Christ for myself and not feel pressured by man to go forth during an altar call, so to speak. I’m thankful God did not allow me to taste death without tasting His Salvation!
Who instilled your faith in you?
I’d say my mother (Gina Wright) has been my spiritual mentor, if you will. She kept encouraging me to have a relationship with God and Jesus. I trusted my mother’s advice because I saw how faithful she’s been to God and didn’t grow weary, even in tough times. Her faith strengthened me to make something of myself and not settle for being mediocre. That went for my athletic, academic, personal, and spiritual life.
Was there someone one in your life who influenced you spiritually?
My mother has great friends who I’ve looked up for encouragement (especially males) but I can’t place my finger on any one person in particular. I see it as a collective effort with all of those who are in Christ, contributing.
Is there someone now that helps you in your spiritual walk?
Even though my mother has been a great help in my spiritual walk, I know I can read the Word of the Most High God and pray to Him in the name of Jesus and He’ll see about little ‘ol me.
Where do you attend church at?
I’m currently keeping my eyes, ears, and spirit, open for a place to assemble in Israel.. It’s quite scarce compared to the United States, but I love to get on message boards and Facebook pages, for instance, and assemble there with like-minded saints.
Did you ever have to choose between faith and sports growing up and today?
I don’t feel I have consciously chosen sports over faith. I’ve backslidden at times due to many worldly distractions and peer pressure but now that I’m coming into my own, as a confident man, I’m trying my best to not compromise my faith for anything or anybody.
Is it hard to be a Christian and play professional basketball?
I don’t feel it’s hard to be a saint while playing professional basketball. I look at my profession as a means to provide for myself and my family but my faith in Christ, hopefully glorifying Him and for people not to see me but see Christ’s Spirit dwelling inside of me.
Does your teammates know you’re a Christian?
I am sure some of my teammates know about my faith in Christ. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ so I have told some people in the flow of conversations, but I’d rather let my actions be the testimony.
Has sports challenged your faith?
Sports has definitely challenged my faith due to the various backgrounds in which many players come from, and now we are around each other closely, for months and even years. Sometimes it can feel like living for the Lord can come off as being better than a non-believer but I know that I, am not worthy of eternal life, by myself alone.
What does it mean to be a role model?
I think being a role model requires humility and having a high moral standard. I also think a role model should encourage others to persevere if a given situation seems rough and to have a mind of their own and think critically.
Is it hard as a Christian athlete w temptations that are all around you?
There are many temptations that come along with playing professional basketball; to live luxurious, to party and live for the moment, as they say, so I try to stay prayerful and ask for strength to get through my days.
Before a game do you spend time in prayer?
I try to spend time praying every day so naturally, I try to pray to God daily and thank Him for this opportunity to make a living and be a blessing to others as well.
Does the team pray?
My current team doesn’t pray together but in America, almost every team I’ve been, did pray before games and even practices.
Is there other teammates who share your faith?
I haven’t gotten into deep discussions with any of my teammates but with me being in the Holy Land, at least there isn’t a famine with God being talked about.
I can’t pick one favorite scripture but I’d say two of my favorites are John 4:24 and John 14:6.
What verse has been the most powerful to you with your walk with Christ and how has it?
I’d say a powerful verse that has stuck with me on my walk with Christ is Matthew 10:16. In paraphrasing, Christ has charged those who truly believe in Him, to be wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove. Christ was full of wisdom and He used the Word (the Law and the Prophets) to perfectly navigate through this world filled with deception and temptation. He repeatedly preached against the Pharisees and Sadducees, who claimed to be the wisest and “holier-than-thou.” I feel that I’m charged to proclaim the gospel to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, yet stand for truth and continuously seek it in God’s Word.
I have a 11 yr old son who plays basketball, what advice would you give him?
My advice for your eleven-year old son and any adolescences who want to play basketball is try to have fun and work on fundamentals. It’s cool to watch professional players make fancy plays but they’ve gotten to that level by hard work, and mastering the basics first.
How do you think the Jayhawks will do this year?
I’m trying to keep up with my Jayhawks as much as I can! I think the Jayhawks have a solid team, with a combination of youth and experience, ripe for a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Any other comments you might like to say.
In closing, I believe we are in the Last Days and it’s imperative that we all strive to improve our spiritual journey with Christ. According to Romans 11, God has not forgotten His people (Israel) regardless of what man’s thought’s and suggestions have been. There is still a bloodline (not a religion) of people among us who come from the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, scattered all over the world. However, regardless of a person’s lineage (Israelite or a Gentile) I believe our duty is to be bold and share the gospel when we are led to. We should pray for godly wisdom and discernment to withstand the daily temptations throughout our human experience.
I truly believe he is right about how we all need to strive to improve our spiritual life. The question is how are you improving your walk with Christ? I hope his story can encourage you to share your faith with others around you. Thanks Julian for sharing your heart, passion and love for Christ with us. May God bless you in your walk with him and may one day we have a chance to pray together.