Archive for the ‘College Basketball’ Category

Ballin' is a Habit

Ballin’ is a Habit

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,
Julian Wright

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.

Fav scripture?
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.

Shalom
Julian

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.

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This post comes from our newest blogger, Wes Baldwin!

(Photo Credit: Riley Shaaber/FSView - FSUNews.com)

He was listed as one of the top 30 basketball players in the nation out of the 2006 high school class. His name was right there with guys like Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, Ty Lawson, Thaddeus Young and several others that were top draft picks in the NBA. But this guy’s path didn’t quite go as planned. His plan of playing for a major college, getting drafted and playing in the NBA turned into  spending a year in the Broward County jail in Florida. He had so much talent, so much height and strength, a five star status, but he started breaking team rules, facing frequent game suspensions, and then eventually found himself handcuffed in the back of a police car, after being arrested for possession of cocaine and marijuana. All that talent, all the hype, his scholarship to Florida State, all his dreams……down the drain. But, not so fast, Jon Kreft, says it’s that experience that has shaped him into the man he is today.

Kreft sat in that jail and realized something had to change; he couldn’t let his life amount to nothing. While he was in jail, he got a call from Greg Heiar, who was the head coach at Chipola Junior College, in Marianna, Florida at the time. Heiar told Kreft that Chipola wanted him, but things were going to change. He would be required to check in with the coach daily with no exceptions. He was to attend every single class, take notes, take part in classroom discussions and achieve great grades…..average wouldn’t cut it. He would have absolutely no involvement with drugs, alcohol or any kind of illegal substance. Also, he would do things Heiar’s way on the basketball court. No more showing off, but he would learn how to play team ball, and if he didn’t …..he’d be asked to leave. Kreft jumped at the opportunity and ended up turning around his life at Chipola. Kreft formed a deep connection with Heiar, as he became his accountability partner.

Kreft ended up being a great player at Chipola and a great student. His determination and hard work paid off, as he was offered another scholarship at Florida State, where he has played the last two years as a key player off the bench. Kreft says if it had not been for Greg Heiar believing in him and giving him a second chance, he would probably be back in prison, or possibly even dead.

Kreft’s story reminds me so much of the Apostle Paul’s story told in Acts 9. Paul (Saul at the time) had been living a life of persecuting Christians for their faith. That was before he was blinded by a light on his way to Damascus. His life was turned upside down. He now had a calling from the Lord, to take up the very cause he had been persecuting people. People from both sides now didn’t trust him, Even the disciples didn’t believe he was telling the truth  and they were afraid of him. But Saul had a man named Barnabas stand up for him.

Acts 9:27 says: “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”

This was the beginning of a powerful mentoring relationship that existed between Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas became Paul’s defender, motivator, encourager, and friend. Although, they later had a conflict over who to take with them on a missionary journey, it doesn’t take away from the fact that in a lot of ways, Paul wouldn’t have become the man he did, if God had not placed Barnabas in his life.

Paul and Jon Kreft both had to deal with naysayers. Having to deal with people refer to you as a hypocrite and murderer or a druggie and a waste of talent. Luckily these guys both had men who saw something in them, who invested their lives in these men, didn’t give up on them, and helped these men achieve lives worthy of living.

So ask yourself: Are you someone’s Jon Kreft or Greg Heiar?

Selection Sunday: Punching Your Ticket to Heaven

Posted: March 11, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in College Basketball

 

Today is one of my favorite days on the sports calendar. It is Selection Sunday! Today, the field of 68 basketball teams will be decided for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that begins this Thursday and will crown a champion in New Orleans in early April.

All year long, teams go through a grueling regular season and then a week long conference tournament to ultimately see if their resume stands up in the eyes of the selection committee. Some teams are guaranteed spots via the conference tournament and just wondering if they will get a top seed or a favorable draw. Others are hoping that they flat out make the tourney.

This is what we in the sports world like to call the” Bubble” teams. These teams may some have good qualities on their resume, but they also have that one fatal flaw that may make the committee hesitant. For example, a team might have some great wins and a good RPI number, but they also may have a bad loss that sticks out amongst the rest.

As I think about Selection Sunday, I can’t help but think about the Lord Jesus Christ. You may be asking why I make that comparison. Well, I look at Jesus and I see Him as the Head of the Selection Committee. He ultimately holds the Book of Life in His hands! That is what John tells us in the Book of Revelation.

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” (Revelation 20:12)

To continue on about the final judgment and what ultimately will happen before the Throne, Jesus gives us a picture of this in the Gospel of Matthew:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.” (Matthew 25:31-33)

In this scenario, Jesus talks about how the King will differentiate the sheep from the goats and how people will inherit the Kingdom.  It says how He was thirsty, but they gave Him something to drink, or He was naked, and they gave Him clothing. Jesus says to the sheep later on: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

If we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will all ultimately make the Big Dance that is Heaven with all our brothers and sisters in Christ! Whether you are of high esteem in the community (#1 seed) or a team struggling to make the tournament, it’s our faith that Jesus is the only way to salvation that allows God to have a place prepared for us by the Father like Jesus told His disciples in the gospel of John.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

Today, I exhort you as you watch the bracket being announced, to think about your resume on a spiritual level. We can say that we do all these great works and that we are good people, but that is a very bad loss in the Lord’s eyes. The only way we win the ultimate National Championship is the acceptance of Jesus. After that, all of our quality wins go off the table unless we give God all the glory!

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Landen Lucas will be a freshmen at Kansas University in the fall. He has committed to play for the Kansas Jayhawks Men’s Basketball Team. We have heard all about his great athletic skills and will continue to hear about them and see them firsthand. Just check out youtube.com to watch Landen excel on the basketball court. This story is not about his skills but about the most important part of his life, his faith and his walk with Christ.
Landen is from Portland, Oregon and will graduate from Westview High School in May. He just finished his high school basketball career and even tweeted this “Its crazy to think the next time I’ll be playing an official basketball game will be with Kansas!” Not only will KU get a great basketball player but will also get a great young man who strives to be like Jesus.
Landen chose Kansas because of the great coaching staff, the tradition and his opportunity to develop as a player and the chance to play. Watching videos of him score, rebound and defend show why Kansas fans are ready for him to come and continue the winning tradition.

I asked Landen some questions about his walk with Christ and his faith. Here are his answers:

Tell me about your spiritual journey in life:

Landen- I have always had had Christ in my life and I’m following his path to impact others through my talents.

When did you start your journey with Christ?

Landen- Every Sunday going to church ever since I could remember.

Is there someone who instilled your faith in you and who spiritually influences you?

Landen- My mom had a big role in it and so did my pastor. My mom always brings things back to God. Good or bad, and it really has made an impact on me.

Do you ever have to choose between faith and sports growing up and today?

Landen- Yes, just the normal perception of sports players makes it hard to chose what route to take in my spiritual life.

Is it hard to be a Christian and play high school sports?

Landen- Yes expectations make it very hard.

Does your teammates know you are a Christian?

Landen- Yeah I’m sure its pretty clear to them by now.

What church do you go to and are you involved in a youth ministry?

Landen- New Song since I was 3 and when I have time I try and get involved with it.

Has sports challenged your faith?

Landen- Yeah especially during the downs and times it was hard to believe and trust in Him.

Is it hard as a Christian athlete with temptations that are all around you?

Landen- Yes, many are put in front of you when you are in the spotlight and it’s one of the hardest things to resist them.

Are there other teammates who share your faith?

Landen -On my current team there are a few.

Can u tell me about a time where God has really impacted your life?

Landen- When I was out at Findlay away from my family in Vegas it helped a lot to have Him there.

What verse has been the most powerful to you with your walk with Christ and how has it?

Landen – “I can do all things through christ who strengthens me.” I’m never going to get a tattoo but if I did that would be it. It can be put in so many situations.

I have a 10 yr old son who plays basketball-what advice would you give him?

Landen- Stay focused. Don’t go with the crowd, people who arent conforming with the crowd go far on and off the court. An example on the court would be like when I was a kid focusing on rebounding even though everyone was worried about scoring more than anything.

So KU fans everywhere, are you ready for the next KU Superstar that not only will score on the court and rebound every ball but will serve Christ with all of his heart. This 6-10 and 240lb C/PF young man is ready to make it 9 straight Big 12 Championships with the rest of the team next season. So look out for #33 this fall living like Jesus on the KU campus and dominating in the Phog.

Christian Garrett (Photo: KU Sports)

“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.

Jordan Juenemann (Photo:Kansas.com)

“God has me at KU for a specific purpose.”

“I want to be known for loving and serving Jesus.”

This past Tuesday night was the opening of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball season. The Jayhawks played Pittsburgh State in an exhibition game before the points and blocks count. This night wasn’t just a typical exhibition.Three of KU’s starters, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson did not play in the game. Even Coach Self was a
little worried before the tip went off. One of the players who played 15 minutes and ended up with 4 points and 5 rebounds was Jordan Juenemann. I had the privilege of talking to Jordan after the game on Wednesday. We talked about what was really important in Jordan’s life, his spiritual walk with Christ.

Jordan was born and raised in Hays, KS and graduated from Hays in 2008. His dream came true in the fall of 2008 when he made a leap of faith and came to KU where he became a walk on guard for the basketball team. Jordan grew up a Jayhawk fan. His parents were both Jayhawk fans, his sister graduated from KU in the spring of 2008, he attended games at the Phog, and was a camper at several of Bill Self’s summer basketball camps. Jordan is now a senior and is majoring in Exercise Science with a minor in Business. The interesting part is that in first exhibition game, Jordan played more minutes than any other game he has played in since becoming a walk on. Jordan has another chance to play more and score more tonight when he plays his hometown college, Ft. Hays State and guards his best friend Jason Ball.

Jordan told me he is blessed with amazing parents and an amazing family. Both of his parents grew up Catholic. In 1992, his dad accepted the Lordship of Jesus and came to Christ. His faith was instilled in him by his dad who would pray with his family every night. His dad took the family to church and his love reflected the love of God. Jordan realized how important Jesus was at a young age. He spent time in the Word and around 3rd or 4th grade, he finally understood that Jesus died on the cross for him. In 5th grade, Jordan was baptized.

“My walk with Christ is a continual transformation.”

His family is the biggest spiritual influences in his life now and while he was growing up. At KU, Wayne Simien is a big spiritual influence in his life. Wayne is a great example for all the athletics at KU. Wayne has and is helping Jordan grow in his walk with Christ and helps him to be be disciplined in his walk. Jordan told me that Wayne is a great man of God and a
great example to follow. When he goes back to his hometown of Hays, he has several people there who encourage him spiritually. Jordan spoke highly of Jeff Willms who is a coach and is Jordan’s mentor that Jordan keeps in contact with
weekly.

This past summer, Jordan and Jeff Withey were part of the Athletes in Action basketball travel team, a global Sports Ministry working with college and professional athletes to use the platform of sports to help people with questions of faith. They traveled to Macedonia and Kosova where they spent time in bible studies, praying, sharing their testimonies and playing basketball. Jordan loved his experience playing basketball with a foundational spiritual setting. He unplugged from the world by having no cell phone and no computer and plugged into God word’s on a daily basis. Jordan grew closer to God during this opportunity and was re-baptized. He really appreciates all the hard work that Mike Sigfrids has put into this global ministry. He was challenged to go back to KU and give weekly devotionals and share his faith by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Jordan plans to and hopes that he will get the opportunity to help out with this great global sports ministry sometime in the future.

The title of being a member of the Men’s Jayhawk basketball team is great but Jordan wants to be known for being a servant of Christ and loving Jesus. Being a collegiate basketball player and being a Christian is not always easy especially when you come from different cultures. Jordan’s freshmen year was a culture experience for a small town Kansas boy relating to those from Chicago and Philadelphia. God gave him the strength to stand up for his morals and his faith. His teammates knew he was different and respected his walk with Christ and accepted him for who he was in the locker room and in the dorms. Jordan didn’t ever want to act like he was better than everyone else, but instead wanted to keep his focus on basketball and his faith.

His teammates and coaches know that he is a Christian by the way he walks and talks and how he carries himself in the locker room, in the dorms and on the court. His faith is personal to him and Jordan wants to grow in his relationship with Christ every day. He spends time with other students on campus and even a few on the team who have the same focus of wanting to serve God and live for Him. He doesn’t go looking for temptations but strives to stand for God and honor God with his life. His teammates know where he stands and will act differently towards him. His strong morals were instilled in him by his dad and his family. He is in constant prayer and wants to live in full obedience to God and his word. Daily he lives for Christ. Even before we talked, his mother called him and prayed with him for a while. Playing basketball for 5 to 6 hours a day plus going to class and studying, Jordan still makes time for prayer, and bible study. Jordan also spends a lot of time reading books and recently books on the power of prayer.

One thing that really inspired me about Jordan is that when he plays a game, he is only playing for one person who takes up the whole gym, and cheers the loudest-God. Not only does Jordan spend time in prayer but the team does as well. He told me that Coach Self’s coaching philosophy has Christian values. They say the Lord’s Prayer before games, they pray before meals, and even pray before practices. Jordan isn’t the only Jayhawk who strives to live for Christ every day. According to Jordan, Jeff Withey loves Jesus and Christian Garrett is on fire for Jesus plus Tyrel Reed lives for Christ. The two passages that have helped Jordan in his walk are Philippians 3:14 and Colossians 3:23-24.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 3:14 ESV) This passage encourages him on the basketball court to keep pressing on after each play and forget about the last play or mistake.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24 ESV) This passage is written on his shoes and is a reminder of the inheritance that is in store for those who work for God.

Jordan serves Christ with his whole heart and so many have told me that he is a great young man. Even while watching the exhibition game the other night, the announcer talked highly about his presence on the court and his heart.

Jordan believes that the Jayhawks this season will reach their goals and will have a great year. He believes they need to workhard together as a team, do what the coaches want, come together as a team despite the adversity and give it their all. I believe if they follow this pathway, there is another Big 12 Conference title waiting for them. Jordan also gave my 10 year old son, who aspires to play for the Jayhawks one day, some advice. He told me to tell my son that you been given a gift from God and everydaywork hard to get better. Have a love for the game of basketball; and believe it with everything you got that one day you will make it to the next level. Jordan also told me to tell my son to look to God and seek his will for his life.

At the end of our conversation, Jordan was very thankful that we came to him about his spiritual walk but more importantly he was appreciative that this article will get Jesus name out there. Jordan wants to be known for his faith and his trust in God. He is thankful that every day is a gift from God and wants to honor God with his entire life.

I appreciate Jordan for sharing his inspiring story with me so that I can share it with the world!