Originally Published: March 2012
“…supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with selfcontrol, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” – 2 Peter 1:5-7
I’ve been in love with the game of basketball ever since I was 10 years old. I loved watching it and playing it, and I often dreamed of becoming a pro basketball player.
I was the oldest of five children who grew up on the east side of Cleveland under the watchful care of my father, a policeman, and my mom, who stayed at home with us until I was in middle school.
From a spiritual perspective, my parents raised us according to the Christian norms that were prevalent in the late ’60s, but we never went to church, and I didn’t have an understanding of what it meant to have a relationship with Christ. I had a reasonably good moral compass, but it wasn’t grounded in the truth of Scripture. We sought to do good to others and do the right things, but we were more of what you’d call “happy pagans.”
As a young man I was very focused in pursuing my dreams and goals. In high school, I was named Mr. Ohio Basketball (1979) and earned a college scholarship to Ohio State University. After a successful college career, my dream of becoming a professional basketball player came true when I was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1982.
Life was good both on the court and off, as I also proposed to my future wife, Rosy, that year. In so many ways I was living a positive and successful life, but it was totally selfcentered, revolving around what I thought was best and right.
In late 1985, however, my life completely changed. Through a local ministry’s chapel program with the Pacers, I began to realize that there was more to life than basketball. I was hurt at the time and had just undergone the second of what would be three knee surgeries. At that point, I didn’t know these injuries would ultimately end my career, but they had shaken my world enough to raise my antenna to who God was and what He might have to say about how I lived.
Rosy walked through this time with me, and we both sensed in our spirits that we needed to seek out answers to our questions about God.
The process began when I started spending time with Bryan Chapman, who led the Pacer chapel program. He and I cracked open our Bibles and spent time talking at length. Through our time together it became apparent that God was and is the giver and sustainer of life—the giver of every good and perfect gift. I realized that His greatest desire and purpose for us was to reflect His image on earth and to glorify Him.
Bryan and I journeyed together for about eight months, culminating in November 1986 when I confessed with my mouth after believing with my heart that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that I needed Him to be the Lord and Savior of my life. Nine months later, in August 1987, I announced the end of my basketball playing career, confident that my future was secure in the hands of Christ. Shortly after, I began what has now been a 25- year broadcasting career—a natural fit due to my experience in the game.
I began with the Pacers Radio Network, then did some local TV games for Cleveland State University, eventually moving to the Big East Television Network and ESPN. In 1993, I started working for CBS and served as the lead studio analyst from 1997-2008, and in December 2008 I was named the lead college basketball analyst. This month I will call my fourth men’s Final Four.
In 2010, I also moved into the role of Vice President of Player Relations for the Indiana Pacers. In this role, I help our players become champions on and off the court, primarily though mentoring, relationship-building, and helping them develop holistically away from the game.
No matter what role I embrace, however, my faith remains my foundation. Christ is my all and the driver of my life. He permeates my very being and impacts everything I do. Through prayer, patience and asking Him to work through me, I realize I’m always an ambassador for Him. Whether I’m broadcasting, being a husband and father, mentoring our guys, or interacting with my colleagues, that’s who I am. I’m a Christ-follower and all that I think, do and say is influenced by that. I’m a representative of Christ, and I have the living Christ alive in me through God’s grace. That will always flow out of me as I stay close to Him.
Photos courtesy of Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS Broadcasting Inc.