By Joanna Delalande
2015 NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors shows great humility even though many consider him one of the greatest shooters of his time
The son of Dell Curry, an NBA player from '86 to '02, Stephen Curry beat his own NBA season record in 2015 with 286 three-pointers, leading the Warriors to their first NBA championship in 40 years and an NBA-best 67 wins.
The field-goal specialist – with 47% career accuracy and a game-point average above 20 – is also a two-time NBA All-Star and dual Olympic gold medallist, having helped USA to victory at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games.
Along with his awe-inspiring talent, the 27-year-old also has tremendous humility, as displayed in his MVP speech.
"First and foremost I have to thank my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for blessing me with the talents to play this game and with the family to support me day in day out," Stephen began.
"I am His humble servant right now, and I cannot say it enough how important my faith is to how I play the game and who I am. So I am just blessed and thankful for where I am."
Stephen has fond memories of playing well into the night on his backyard basketball court in Charlotte, North Carolina.
But it did not always look as though Stephen would have a promising career in the sport, as all the schools he tried out for took a pass on him during the recruitment process.
"I had my sights set on Virginia Tech during my high school years," he recalls. "Unfortunately, the Hokies and other ACC schools weren't interested."
Stephen was determined not to give up on his dream and, when head basketball coach of the Davidson College Wildcats Bob McKillop offered him a chance to play for the modest school, he took it.
In 2009 he became the seventh pick in the NBA draft, joining up with the Golden State Warriors.
Later in the 2011-2012 season, when ankle injury after ankle injury and surgery after surgery saw him missing 40 out of the 66 games, he approached the frustrating situation with the same attitude of patience and resilience.
"He had a pretty rough year and a half when it comes to his ankle injuries," his wife Ayesha says. "But there has never been a day that he has had a frown on his face... It's to the point where I'm in awe and shock. How do you not bring all of that stress home with you?"
Stephen has a simple answer: "I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is just a game that can be taken from me at any moment."
Instead of depending on his performance Stephen chooses to rely on something more permanent for happiness: the day he gained everlasting life.
"I remember it like it was yesterday, the day I gave my life to Christ," says Stephen.
"I was in fourth grade, and I recall hearing and understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ and walking down the (church) aisle to give my life to Him."
Since that moment Stephen knew his whole life – every circumstance, every course of action – was not in his hands but in God's hands.
And he knew as long as God was writing his story he had nothing to worry about.
So when no schools seemed to accept him, he decided to keep his trust in the Lord who, it turns out, had a greater plan.
"I was confident the Lord had blessed me with the talent to play the game, and I just wanted to go where He wanted me to be. That place became as clear as day to me once I met Bob McKillop... he was a man of God, so it was an added bonus to play for a leader who was grounded in faith," Stephen recalls.
"The entire recruiting and signing experience taught me about patience and seeking God's will, because He had a plan all along. I couldn't see it at the time, but I trusted He knew what was best for me."
Stephen trusted God in the same way when his injuries stopped him from playing. Knowing his Heavenly Father was taking care of him took away any frustration about the present or worry about the future.
Stephen focuses on playing and enjoying the game instead of letting it be the be all and end all of his success and joy.
And the Bible verse he has written on his sport shoes, Philippians chapter 4 verse 13, lets others know where his talent really comes from: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
"I love that basketball gives me opportunities to do good things for people and to point them towards the Man who died for our sins on the cross," he says.
"I know I have a place in heaven waiting for me because of Him, and that's something no earthly prize or trophy could ever top.
"There's more to me than just this jersey I wear, and that's Christ living inside of me." •