Describe Your Relationship with Christ.
- I was very fortunate to grow up in a Christian family. My parents, grandparents and great Aunt have been extremely influential in my relationship with Christ. A cool story about growing up, my father and grandfather taught me how to play basketball. My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when I was in middle school, and he soon forgot my name and the names of everyone in my family including my grandmother. Amazingly, after losing all his vocabulary, there was still one thing he could say until the day he passed away, "Jesus loves you". He would walk around saying it over and over, and at the time I thought it was a little strange, but I would later realize how important understanding that phrase would be in my life.
Throughout high school my faith became less of a priority to me. I began hanging out with a different crowd, people who may not have had the same goals and relationship with God as I did. It soon began to take its toll on me and after my Junior year I knew something had to change. God has put several people in my life that would help shape the direction he wanted me to go in, and one of them was a man named Kevin Billerman. While playing AAU basketball years earlier, I had the opportunity to play under Coach Billerman . He was a former point guard at Duke University and also happened to be the Head basketball coach of Ravenscroft, a local private school known for its incredible academics as well as a great basketball program. This would be one of the several, very important decisions I would have to make over the new few years, which God would guide me through. I weighed the decision to transfer for weeks, asking God to guide me and lead me in the direction that was best for my future. Soon, it became clear, I was accepted into Ravenscroft and I knew this is where I was supposed to be. However, Ravenscroft was not cheap, and my dad took a second job cleaning office buildings and churches at night. I saw him would countless hours, sacrificing time with our family and other things he wants to do just to see me happy and to have the opportunities that would help me to have a brighter future. I remember we would have workouts at Ravenscroft at 6:30 AM every morning, it would be pitch black and my dad would be leaving the same time as me to go to work, and wouldn't get back home until 10:00 PM most nights. That is where I get my work ethic. After 2 seasons at Ravenscroft I was fortunate to hold offers from several Division 1 schools. I had made some great friends and I also met a girl who I became very close with. After taking visits to different schools, Gardner-Webb University, a small Christian school in the Big South conference, and in desperate need of a true point guard, seemed to be the right fit. That November I committed to Gardner Webb going my whole senior year knowing where I was going school felt great. Then in April their coach was fired, leaving me to decide if I still wanted to go there or not. I had a visit scheduled with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on a Saturday, and planned to go to Gardner Webb with my dad on Friday to talk with the new head coach. At GWU, the coaches continued to express their need for me to play for them, but they also would have to know an answer soon, as another point guard in my class was to visit on Saturday, and if I did not decide by then, they would offer a scholarship to him who would likely commit immediately. Again, I went to God for guidance. On the way home I closed my eyes and prayed, asking God to lead me. After praying and talking to my dad on the car ride home, it was clear, I cancelled my flight to Chattanooga and was officially going to Gardner Webb.
At Gardner Webb my life would change. The girl I had gotten so close with broke up with me and I began to feel lost. At a new school with not much to do, not knowing anyone there, important people in your life coming and going, the pressure of D1 college basketball, it all became to overwhelm me. One day in the mail I received a note from my grandmother. In it was a verse from the bible, Romans 8:18 "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed". I opened my bible that night to Psalms and began to read, and from that night on my life would change forever. No matter what I did from then on in my life, I knew it was in Christ's hands, I would trust him forever. That season, I wrote down a different bible verse and put in my sock before every game. I went on that year to become First Team All Freshmen in the Big South and start in all but 2 games and set a freshman single season record in assists. Although I had a good year at Gardner Webb, something was still missing. The school was so small and there was so much in life I was yet to experience. I couldn't see myself there for 3 more years and decided I wanted to transfer. Like all decisions in my life, I brought it to God. I asked him to guide me and to do the right thing, and it became evident that transferring was the right thing to do. I would soon try and do the unthinkable, transfer to play for my dream school, the University of North Carolina. With the help of Ravenscroft Kevin Billerman, I went down to visit UNC and was playing pick up in Chapel Hill with Raymond Felton, Kendall Marshall, Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and so many others. I was also scheduled to meet with Hall of Fame Coach Roy Williams. The night before the meeting I got maybe an hour of sleep. I prayed and prayed that if it was Gods will, things would go great. So there I was at 10 AM, in Coach Williams office. With Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" in my sock, the meeting went great. The next week, on a day ill consider one of the best days of my life, I got a call from Coach Williams, saying I was officially a Tar Heel. A year later I would earn a scholarship at UNC, which is an accomplishment I will cherish forever. With Christ leading me, my dreams had come true.
How Important Has God Been to Your Success As An Athlete?
- I owe all of my success as an athlete to Jesus Christ. A lot of people may not realize, but it really is an incredible blessing just to be able to play the game of basketball. It's so easy to lose sight of how fortunate I really am, the fact that God has allowed me to do something that I love, knowing there are kids out there who can't walk or see or might have other physical disadvantages that deny them the opportunity to play basketball, I realize how lucky I am. My dad always told me that if I play for the right reasons, good things will happen; I play for Christ. I heard someone the other day speak at a Christian basketball camp in Norfolk, Va. and he what he said was absolutely right. When my life is over, it won't matter how good I was at basketball, how many points I scored, or many assists I dished out. All that matters is if I used my abilities in a way that would bring glory to God. Christ has put me at UNC for several reasons, and as long as he allows me to play this game, all I can do is give it everything I have to take advantage of the incredible opportunities he has given me. Christ has guided me to this point; from Broughton High School, to Ravenscroft, to Gardner-Webb, to the University of North Carolina, I know he has led me the entire way.
Do You Have Any Favorite Bible Verses?
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?"
- To me that's awesome! It's the confidence and trust in God that reminds me I cannot fail.
"I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."
"This is the Lord's doings, it is marvelous in our eyes."
- No matter what it is, it's God's plan, and it is perfect. Never will I question what may happen to me because I know my life is in God's hands.
What Are Your Ambitions for the Future?
- My ambitions for the future are pretty simple. Graduate from North Carolina with degrees in Sociology and Communications Studies and pursue a career in something that will support my future family and continue to allow Christ to guide me wherever he wants me to go.