This past year or so has been a great year for Christian athletes. There have been many athletes that were or are Christians, but this past year we have seen a surge in their popularity. Four athletes in particular have made huge strides in their career, two were victims of criticism to their games and the other two won world championships. The four athletes that I’m talking about are Jon Jones, Jason Terry, Tim Tebow, and Jeremy Lin.
Jon “Bones” Jones is a 24-year-old mixed martial arts fighter from Rochester, New York. He has the longest reach of any fighter in the UFC at 84.5 inches. He fought for only four months professionally before being called up by the UFC. He quickly fought his way to the top and was given a light heavyweight title bout at UFC 128, on March 19, 2011, against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Jones won by TKO in the third round to win the UFC light heavyweight title making him the youngest UFC title holder in history. He has beaten other great fighters including Lyota Machido, Quinton Jackson, Brandon Vera, Matt Hamill, Stephen Bonner, and Vladimir Matyushenko. Jones calls himself a “hardcore Christian” and grew up a Pentecostal Christian. He has Philippians 4:13 tattooed on his chest. The Bible verse says “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” It was his sister’s favorite Bible verse, who battled cancer and life was taken before the age of 18.
Jason Terry, is a 13 year veteran in the NBA, plays for the Dallas Mavericks. He won NCAA championship at the University of Arizona in 1999 with Mike Bibby. Before the 2010-2011 season Terry got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien trophy, the NBA Finals trophy. Lucky for him, the Mavericks defeated the Heat in the NBA Finals and the tattoo was dignified. In the post-game interview following their series clinching game in the finals said “My faith, first of all, is in God. And with that comes the confidence, knowing that you can be successful when you play with guys like we have on this team.” Later tweeting “We played hard and prayed harder its all Jesus..”. He had to have faith in God to tattoo his biceps with a trophy that he has never won. Nevertheless he won an NBA championship and has vindication in getting the tattoo albeit prematurely.
Tim Tebow, took the world by storm this past season in the NFL. “Tebowmania” ran wild across the sports world. Tebow is famously known for his faith in God. There’s not much to say about this kid that most don’t already know. He is a devote Christian. He was home-schooled as a kid. He is a Heisman trophy winner. He is a 2-time NCAA BCS champion. The NCAA made a rule dubbed “The Tebow Rule”, which banned messages on eye paint. He often wore bible verses on his eye paint. In the 2009 BCS championship game he wore John 3:16 on his eye paint and that verse was the highest-ranked Google search within the next 24 hours. Tebow took over as the starting QB for the Denver Broncos in week 6 and compiled a 7-4 record from then on. The Broncos finished with an 8-8 record which was good enough to earn a playoff berth. He led and improbable win in overtime over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the Playoffs. He threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play of overtime. The Broncos were later ousted by the New England Patriots. Tebow had the 2nd highest selling jersey to Aaron Rodgers in the NFL this year. That’s how rampant Tebowmania was in 2011. He was highly criticized for his skill set coming into the NFL Draft and especially as a starter of the Denver Broncos, but he continued to win games. His faith in God speaks in volumes to his belief in his game and in his teammates. He might be the most prevalent Christian athlete today.
Jeremy Lin started the “Linsanity” that engulfed the sports world and media outlets across the country. An undrafted point guard out of Harvard was days away from getting cut by the third team in his 2 year career. He was given the shot to start and the rest is history. Lin also equates his success and opportunity to his faith in God. He was sleeping on his brother’s couch while getting his first few starts in the NBA. The Knicks were just as blessed to acquire Lin as Lin was to get the starting job. He’s the first Asian-American NBA player and put up numbers that no player had obtained through their first 10 starts. Lin is an evangelical Christian and after his NBA career Lin hopes to become a pastor and head a non-profit organization. He is one of the biggest stories in sports this year and although the “Linsanity” has died down a bit, he still is a great story and devout Christian.