I grew up in a Christian household; my mom loves Jesus and has been a great role model for me. She always preached it to us growing up, but it never really clicked for me. I was always a believer of Christ, but I never had a relationship with the Lord. It was just something I did because I thought I was supposed to. I was just following the rules.
I went to the Air Force Academy for my first year of college, then transferred to South Dakota. While I was in South Dakota, I had some tough times — I couldn’t play and some things were going on with my family. I met this guy there who ran Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I started talking to him and reading Scripture and really started to take my faith more seriously. This changed my life. It changed the way I played basketball, it changed the way I viewed my life and my relationships — everything changed when I began a relationship with the Lord.
Before that relationship with Christ, I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to make good money and have a secure job. But after coming to Christ, I wanted to pursue my passion. We all have different gifts and talents from God and I wanted to discover what my gifts were. Now I think in terms of, “What does God want me to do with my life?” Obviously I love the game of basketball and I wouldn’t have that love for no reason, but I want to have a positive impact through the game.
I used to put a lot of pressure on myself. I’ve always wanted to be great at the game, but now I have a certain level of peace when I play. During my sophomore season it hit me that no matter how good or how bad I play, God’s love for me isn’t going to change — it’s not based on performance. Ironically, I started playing better. I had a freedom and a peace in me when I went out to play. It doesn’t mean I always played well; I’ve had a lot of bad games in my career, especially last year with Texas Tech. It was a new spotlight and a bigger stage, and I didn’t have the greatest NCAA championship game. But having a relationship with the Lord helps me move on. I don’t have my identity just in basketball.
With anything in life there will be highs and lows. During last year’s Final Four, I was at the highest of highs and the lowest of lows all within a span of a couple days. I imagine winning a national championship is legendary; it changes your life forever! But it’s hard to move on from losing the championship game. The only way to really move on is if you have your identity in the Lord.
This transformation has meant so much that ever since I’ve wanted to share it with others. I try to help my teammates and be a good influence but I’m not perfect. I still have things I struggle with on a daily basis but I keep reminding myself to turn to the cross.
— Matt Mooney, Memphis Hustle guard
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