Challenge SPORT

Aiming high with feet firmly on the ground

Kyle Guy
Kyle Guy #5 of the Virginia Cavaliers reacts against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the second half during the NCAA men’s Final Four National Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The tattoo on his leg reads sisi ni sawa, which is Swahili for “we are the same” referring to Kyle and David of the Bible. (Photo Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Twenty-two year old basketballer Kyle J Guy has got the world at his fingertips. Last year he got married and, after helping Virginia win the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCA) championship and garnishing the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award, was picked as shooting guard for the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

However, he has not let success go to his head, understanding it is all an undeserved gift.

"Every last praise and all glory goes to God" he tweeted last April when he was picked by the New York Knicks, and then traded to Sacramento. "Beyond blessed."

His Twitter byline reads I AM THIRD, which references a Christian website, I AM SECOND, which tells the stories of those who have put God first. Kyle's phrase takes it one step further, putting the needs of others ahead of his own too.

Besides social media accounts, another way people display their allegiances is by their body art. Kyle has a large tattoo on the front of his right thigh of the Bible character David standing on the slain body of Goliath in the mouth of a lion. One of the names for God is the Lion of Judah. Author CS Lewis also portrayed God as a lion – Aslan – in his allegorical children's series about Narnia.

As Kyle makes plain in his tweet from Easter 2017: On this day, the word impossible was deleted from our dictionary ... we have a lot to be thankful for and Thursday through Sunday of this weekend is the whole reason I got this tattoo. Jesus is my Savior, he is the Savior of all of us. ... Don't take anything for granted because God's plan will trump our plan every single time."_

And God's plan for Kyle's career trumped the ideas of many basketball pundits who didn't think the relatively short and slight six-foot-twoer from Indianapolis had what it took to make the cut.

As one sports writer wrote shortly after he was picked: "Guy is a strong shooter, works well off of screens, and is an adept passer. His athleticism and size is a knock against him, but he's a proven winner at every stage."

After preparation meets opportunity, Kyle says he leaves everything else in God's hands.

Kyle and Alexa
Kyle and his wife Alexa leaving for their honeymoon.

"I would not be here without Him. I always shower before games and that's kind of how I get my mind right, say a little prayer or whatever. I am always praying ... I want to win more than anything. But I know God's plan is greater so that's something I can hang my hat on," he says.

Kyle's attitude is due in part to Virginia Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett, who is also unafraid of letting people know that he's a Christian. He is widely credited with reversing the fortunes of the Virginia men's basketball program, partly by bringing his faith into the locker room and praying with his players.

Kyle's mother, Katy, told the Daily Progress, "Coach Bennett is the only coach who talked about his faith with Kyle. That was very important." That's why Guy went to Virginia after being a star high school player in Indianapolis.

Coach Bennett explains his motivation: "There's a verse that says always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that you have but do it with gentleness and respect. I know what my hope is for me. I know what my life is grounded on - my faith in Christ. That, for me, is where I draw my strength from, my peace, my steadiness in the midst of things. There's nothing that touches it. It's a joy that's unspeakable.

"Our [training] program is built on five pillars - they're actually biblical pillars," he explains. "Humility - do you know who you are as a team and as a player? Passion - do you play with passion? Unity - being part of something bigger than yourself. Servanthood - the way to greatness is through being a servant. And thankfulness. We use those for our team specifically. And again, you always hope that through sports they become better players and young men, and they'll always return what you model to them."

Last July, in Hawaii, talented young Kyle scored big again when he married high school sweetheart Alexa Jenkins, whom he had been dating since eighth grade.

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