In the midst of toxic fame, some men distinctly stood in their faith and love for God.
I call this “My Top 10 Hall of Faith” for famous and world-class athletes. These men are known followers of Jesus Christ on or off the stage.
10. Dwayne Wade, NBA
A devout Christian, Wade is one of the most well-known players in the NBA. In order to avoid his gangs-and-drugs-infested environment, he turned to basketball and succeeded well. A Christian philanthropist, he founded The Wade’s World Foundation to help children and youth at-risk. He is also a tither and major supporter his mom’s ministry who became a Baptist pastor after she was rehabilitated and transformed from her drug addiction.
9. A.C. Green, NBA
Green became a Christ-follower during high school. He committed himself to moral purity for God in the face of promiscuity. Despite his popularity and his teammates’ attempts to send women to tempt him, Green kept his virginity in his entire NBA career. After retirement from NBA, he founded and administrates the A.C. Green Youth Foundation, a program promoting abstinence until marriage.
8. George Foreman, Boxer
An Olympic Gold medalist, Foreman is the two-time heavyweight champion and also known as one of the greatest boxers of all time. He is also an ordained Baptist minister and the father of eleven children. For his family, friends, and fans, Foreman’s life is considered a great Christian role model.
7. David Robinson, NBA
His entire NBA career was spent with the San Antonio Spurs where he led the team to two championships with prestigious awards, like an MVP. An accomplished Navy Lieutenant, “The Admiral” is also a Christian philanthropist and has donated millions of dollars to charitable, non-profit institutions. He was inducted into NBA Hall of Fame.
6. Tim Tebow, NFL, NY Mets
Tebow was born in the Philippines and nurtured by his parents who are Southern Baptist missionaries. He became an NFL Florida Gators’ Quarterback and led the team to consecutive national championships. He is very outspoken about his faith, “Tebowing,” sexual abstinence, and is committed to lead people to Christ. He founded the Tim Tebow Foundation. He also supported the Cure Hospital in Davao City, Philippines, and the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association’s national evangelists, of whom many are my friends and colleagues in the Christian ministry.
5. Jeremy Lin, NBA
The documentary Linsanity captures “the most surprising story in the NBA.” Lin was raised in a Christian family and was graduated from Harvard University where he once led the Asian American Christian Fellowship there. As one of the few Asian Americans in NBA history, he became very popular playing with the New York Knicks. But in all these fame, he remained humble.
Lin also said, “I do think my purpose is to play basketball, play well, and play for the glory of God.” Lin hopes to become a pastor someday.
4. Kevin Durant, NBA
Despite his fame, Durant’s faith in God remains rock-solid. In fact, he has a spiritual coach to keep him grounded in his Christian faith. An NBA MVP and multi-awarded player, he is also a Christian philanthropist. He is unashamed of his faith in God humbly confessing that Jesus Christ is the Lord of his game.
In an interview, Durant said, “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.”
3. Stephen Curry, NBA
Curry is the “first to be voted unanimously” as a 2-time NBA MVP from the Golden State Warriors. Considered as “the greatest shooter in NBA history” Curry led the team to record breaking wins. But in all this achievements and accolades, his faith in God remains transparent. Curry said GSW teammates hold daily Bible Study.
He said, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you have or don’t have, what you lack or what you have too much of, but all you need to have is faith in God, an undying passion for what you do and what you choose to do in this life, and a relentless drive and the will to do whatever it takes to be successful in whatever you put your mind to.”
2. Manny Pacquiao, Boxer, PBA
Considered as “one of the greatest boxers of all time,” Pacquiao is “the Best Pound for Pound Boxer in the World.” He won eleven world titles and the first ever to hold the eight divisions world champion. His decision to follow Jesus Christ became a turnaround in his personal life and professional career. Pacquiao is not just a Senator of the Philippines but he is also a committed Christian evangelist and supporter.
1. Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang, MMA
The Landslide is on the top of my list. A Baguio-Born Filipino MMA and Team Lakay member, he is the current Lightweight Champion of ONE Championship.
In my personal interview with Folayang, I asked his advice for my kids. “As their kuya,” or older brother, “I urge them to find God’s purpose why they exist. I always believe that this purpose is always connected to our passion…and we can glorify God.”
These men became popular professionals, not because of their own power, but for their purpose, passion, and persistence. They all embody these words from St Paul. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Above all the fame, these “men of faith” value their personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Stephen Curry’s former youth pastor encouraged him to really reflect on his Christian faith. He said, “We had to make a decision for ourselves, we couldn’t rely on our parents. It had to be a decision on our own, and that’s when I made it.” He then accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
When was the last time you really reflected your relationship with God through Jesus Christ?
Glenn Plastina © 2017