Inspiring Athletes

Inspiring Athletes

Legendary CNN sports anchor Nick Charles dies of bladder cancer, relied on faith during last days

posted by Chad Bonham

Nick Charles succumbed to bladder cancer today. He’s a familiar face for most diehard sports fans having spent nearly two decades reporting countless events alongside Fred Hickman.

Click here for an inspirational feature on Charles and an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta that took place weeks before his death where he talks about his faith and living life day-to-day.

 

Bayne, Catchings, Clark and Durant headline 2011 ESPYS nominations

posted by Chad Bonham

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ESPN announced its nominees for the 2011 ESPYS on Friday and several are familiar names to Inspiring Athletes:

Trevor Bayne (Best Moment)

Bayne was nominated for his record-breaking performance as the youngest Daytona 500 winner ever. He won 2011 race just one day removed from his 20th birthday.

“I want to be real,” Bayne told Inspiring Athletes. “I don’t want to pose as anything. I don’t want to pose as a tough guy. I don’t want to pose as a nice guy. Whatever Trevor Bayne is, that’s what I’m going to be. Staying humble is the key to this. I try to let that shine through. This can be gone in a second.”

Click here for more of Inspiring Athletes’ recent story on Bayne.

Tamika Catchings (Best WNBA Player)

Catchings is a two-time gold medalist who won her fourth WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award during the 2010 season with the Indiana Fever.

“All the things I’ve been through have given me a platform to be able to talk to people,” Catchings once told me. “I grew up with a hearing problem and I had to wear a hearing aid. I grew up with a speech problem. I had glasses and braces. I dealt with all the things as a young child that you don’t want to face. But it made me stronger and it helped me become the person that I am today.”

Kelly Clark (Best Female Athlete & Best Female Action Sport Athlete)

Clark won X-Games Gold in the half pipe event and became the first female athletes to land a 1080 in competition.

“I thought being a Christian was about following rules and going to church and being good all the time,” Clark once told me. “But (a friend of mine) helped me understand that it’s about having a relationship with God and not about being religious. That was where things shifted for me.”

Be looking for a full interview with Clark in a forthcoming edition of Inspiring Athletes.

Kevin Durant (Best NBA Player)

Durant led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Western Conference Finals and topped all NBA scorers in the process with a 27.7 per game average.

“In the Bible, (it says) the Lord exalts humility and that’s one thing I try to be all the time—when I’m talking in front of people or when people tell me I’m great, I (remind myself that I) can always be better,” Durant told Inspiring Athletes. “I always work on what I have now. 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.”

Click here to read more from Inspiring Athletes’ story about Durant.

Some other nominees include:

Gene Chizik (Best Coach)

Josh Hamilton (Best MLB Player)

Allyson Felix (Best Track & Field Athlete)

Blake Griffin (Breakthrough Athlete)

Troy Polamalu (Best NFL Player)

Aaron Rodgers (Best Male Athlete & Best NFL Player)

Tim Thomas (Best Championship Performance & Best NHL Player)

Soul Surfer (Best Movie)

The ESPYS will be shown on ESPN, Wednesday, July 13th, at 9p ET/8p CT. You can vote for the ESPYS by clicking here.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter on how his faith helps him set a good example

posted by Chad Bonham

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FRIDAY FEATURE: Torii Hunter

Often referred to as “Spiderman” by fans and in the media, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter has legitimately earned the superhero nickname for his uncanny ability to climb walls and rob power hitters of would-be home runs. Need more proof? Look no further than his nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards and his four All-Star Game appearances.

Hunter’s no slouch at the plate either with over 1,000 RBI’s, over 1,700 hits and 266 home runs and counting. But even more impressive is his steady faith that guides him to make positive decisions on the field inner cities and his unwavering commitment to inner cities through the Torii Hunter Project Education Initiative. Here’s what Hunter had to say when asked about his core beliefs and how they impact his actions:

Torii Hunter (Photo by Jason Wise/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Bonham: What circumstances led you to a relationship with Christ?

Hunter: I was raised in the church by my grandmother who made sure we went to Sunday School, read the Bible and went to church every Sunday. Every night we read Bible stories before we went to bed. My mother also made sure we stayed involved in the church and the things of God. My relationship with Christ came about through that and the influences of my mother and grandmother helped my faith to grow.

Bonham: How does your faith define you as an athlete?

Hunter: With me being a Christian, I always think about what would Christ do in any circumstances. When I think about Christ’s life on earth, He worked hard. He was a carpenter. Christ lifted up his teammates, the disciples. Christ was always victorious. Christ left it all on the field. He died on the cross. And Christ always had a passion for whatever He was doing. That’s how I try to define myself as an athlete. That’s the example I try to follow.

Bonham: How does your faith help you deal with the highs and lows of the game?

Hunter: My faith is what makes me strong. Without faith, there are only low times. With faith, I know that everything will be taken care of. Even the difficult times become learning experiences to help make my faith stronger. And when everything is going good, that’s when I know God has rewarded me for my faith. When I rely on my faith, I know God wants to reward and bless me but not because of some great act that I did but because of who He is. And I have the faith that even at my lowest points, there will come a silver lining through faith.

Bonham: What do you want others to learn from your example?

Hunter: I want them to know that I try to walk like Christ in my life. If I strike out, I don’t curse, or throw my bat or hit things back in the dugout, I try to quietly just put my helmet back. I may be very upset but I try to control myself. Whether I’m down or whether things are great, I try to stay the same person all the time. I want my teammates to see that I’m following Christ. But, I’m also human, so there are times I slip and make mistakes but I know Christ forgives me.

Bonham: What are some passages in the Bible that inspire you?

Hunter: My favorite verse in the New Testament is John 3:16. As a Christian, that’s all you need to know. But my favorite book in the Bible is always Proverbs because it’s where you can find wisdom for no matter what you’re going through. It hits me every time I read it. I’ve always read Proverbs regularly because it helps me deal with what’s happening every day in real life.

Former MLB infielder and World Series champion Jay Bell on spiritual epiphanies, the dangers of the performance mentality and the importance of humility

posted by Chad Bonham

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: Jay Bell

When you hear conversations about former Major League infielder Jay Bell, words like “steady,” “consistent” and “solid” are often thrown around. He wasn’t the flashiest player to grace the diamond and rarely put up gaudy numbers, yet his 18-year career that included stops in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Arizona and New York (with the Mets) yielded two All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove Award, a Silver Slugger Award and a World Series ring in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Since retiring in 2003, Bell has spent some time coaching but now works primarily in the non-profit realm for the Baseball Assistance Team while enjoying his family on a full-time basis. Known as one of his eras most well-respected Christian athletes, Bell shares his thoughts on key Bible principles and some watershed events in his Christian walk:

Bonham: What have been some pivotal moments in your spiritual journey?

Jay Bell

Bell: The first was when I got married. My wife and I really held each other accountable and ever since our marriage has been based on our relationship with Christ. I also relied on other strong Christian teammates like Andre Thornton, Brett Butler, Don Gordon and Chris Bando. Another pivotal moment happened in 1996. I was still holding on to the game very tightly. I was having a tough year and one game I remember grounding out and right at that moment as I was jogging back to the dugout I felt myself give the game up to the Lord. It wasn’t a magic formula. It didn’t allow me to get any more hits or score any more runs or be any more successful, it was just the fact that when I finally gave the game over to God, that was the point that I started enjoying the game for what it was in the good times and in the bad.

Bonham: What is a biblical principle that guides your life?

Bell: Philippians 2 talks about being imitators of Christ. That’s been the biggest thing for me. You learn it more as a coach than you do as a player. As a player you tend to go through Spring Training trying to do what you have to do to get ready for the season so you can have success and so the team can have success. As a player, you tend to be more concerned about yourself. You can still be a team player but there’s some selfishness that goes along with it. It’s not a bad selfishness. It’s a good selfishness. But still, you’re concerned about yourself.

As a coach, you’re not as concerned about yourself. You concern yourself with everybody but you. So the focus is different. Yet, in both situations, the key for me was not looking at my interest but thinking of others as higher than myself, and making sure that my attitude was the same as the attitude of Jesus. I always tried to be as humble as I possibly could. Those were also the types of players that I was drawn to like John Smoltz and Tom Glavine and Jeff King.

Bonham: What is your approach to evangelism?

Bell: There are multiple facets to evangelism. Baseball players and coaches live together for about 200 days out of the year. You have a platform with these guys. But they see you and they know you well. You have to earn the right to share Christ with these guys. You don’t want to beat them over the head with a Bible. But you want to make sure that you’re living out the Bible every day. When those opportunities come, then you can share the Bible and God’s Word vocally. You want to be prepared for that.

Bonham: What do you tell young athletes about the dangers of being wrapped up in performance like you once were?

Bell: What I tell my kids and what I tell young players is that you only have one name. You want to make sure you can maintain the integrity of that name. Because once you lose it, you lose it for good. The odds of you getting it back are extremely slim. If you’re name is important to you, then you should do everything you can possibly do to preserve it.

Bonham: What’s your favorite Bible verse?

Bell: Philippians 2:5-8. This is what a Christian walk should look like. It doesn’t mean you have to be meek. You just need to be humble. As an athlete, you want to try to win. You want to do everything you can do to win but there needs to be a humility that comes with that in order to really allow people to look at you and see that there’s something you’ve got that they want. It’s not about the game. It’s not about anything else. It’s about how a solid believer conducts himself when people are watching.

Join us tomorrow for a conversation with Los Angeles Angels outfielder and nine-time Gold Glove award winner Torii Hunter.

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