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A list of athletes who are Jehovah's Witnesses: The balance between faith and sports
Beyond players' formidable athletic abilities, some exceptional individuals quietly hold onto a profound sense of faith that shapes their lives both on and off the field. Among these is a select group of athletes who are Jehovah's Witnesses, balancing between their sporting careers and unwavering commitment to their religious beliefs. This article highlights these remarkable figures and their accomplishments as athletes and devout followers.
For a select group of prominent sports stars, faith plays an equally vital role in shaping their journey. Jehovah's Witnesses, known for their deep-rooted beliefs and religious commitment, have found representation among various sports disciplines. These exceptional individuals captivate audiences with their athletic prowess and inspire millions worldwide with their unwavering devotion to their faith.
Professional athletes who are Jehovah's Witnesses
There are many Jehovah's Witnesses among athletes. Many cultures, races, faiths, and sexual orientations are represented in various sports.
1. Darren Collison
Darren Collison was born on August 23, 1987, and began playing basketball during college, spending four years with the UCLA Bruins. He emerged as a star during his senior year, winning the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award and being drafted by the New Orleans Hornets.
Collison was a point guard for the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Lakers (2009-2019). After a season in which he averaged 11.2 points and six assists per game, he decided to retire in 2019 and devote himself to his faith.
2. Danny Granger
Danny was born on April 20, 1983. After two years at the University of New Mexico, the NBA's Indiana Pacers drafted him in 2005. He has since played ten seasons in the NBA.
Granger was one of the best scorers the Pacers had for nine seasons. He then played forward for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat, but he could never win a championship with any of those teams.
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3. Dewayne Dedmon
Dewayne is one of the best-supporting players in the NBA, but he would never have made it there if he had listened to his mom, the experience of growing up in a Jehovah's Witness family. Dewayne had to teach himself everything he knew now that the NBA picked him because he was never given the benefit of a professional coach. He never won a championship while playing for the Miami Heat, but his life story is compelling.
4. Serena Williams
Serena's birthday is September 26th, 1981. Everyone knows this famous athlete, but few know that she started her professional career at 14 as a wild card at the Bank of the West Classic in Oakland, California, and has not stopped since. In tennis, the 41-year-old has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award four times, and many other accolades, making her the most accomplished female tennis player ever.
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5. Venus Williams
Venus joined her famous sister Serena worldwide on June 17, 1980, and was raised and trained by the Williams family. At the age of seven, a local tennis player named Tony Chesta noticed her talent and signed her.
By the time she was eleven, she had joined the junior tour and been ranked No. 1 in Southern California among players under twelve. Venus's dominant style of play has earned her seven Grand Slam singles titles, three Olympic women's doubles gold medals, and recognition as a game legend.
6. Willie Wise
Born on March 3, 1947, Willie became one of the best all-around players in the American Basketball Association (ABA) while on the court for the Utah Stars, the team he captained to the 1971 ABA title. Wise was an NBA All-Star who also played for the Denver Nuggets and Seattle SuperSonics before a knee injury cut his career short. Before being drafted to the NBA, this 75-year-old was thinking about a career as a Jehovah's Witness minister.
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7. Lou Whitaker
Born on May 12, 1957, he played baseball from high school through college and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, where he spent his entire professional career. Whitaker helped the Tigers win the 1984 World Series and played in 2,390 games for the team before retiring in August 2022.
Lou Whitaker was named an American League All-Star five years ago, winning four Silver Slugger Awards and three Gold Glove Awards. Although Lou's teammate Chet Lemon introduced him to the Jehovah's Witness religion, Lou was not raised in a Jehovah's Witness home. Nevertheless, Lou converted to the faith and now devotes at least 840 hours per year to missionary work for the organization.
8. Dave Pear
Dave Pear was born on June 1, 1953, and has been a professional football player ever since. He got his start in college under legendary coach Jim Owens, and the Baltimore Colts picked him up in the 1975 NFL draft. Dave was the first player from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be chosen.
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The NFL player participated in the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XV for the Oakland Raiders, who ultimately won the game. This 69-year-old football player suffered severe injuries throughout his career that have left him with vertigo, memory loss, and impaired speech. He is one of the NFL players that are Jehovah's Witnesses. He mentions on his blog, “I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and an advocate for justice!”
9. Chet Lemon
Chet Lemon was drafted first overall in 1972 by the Chicago White Sox and went on to play centre field for the Detroit Tigers, where he helped them win the 1984 World Series. He was born on February 12, 1955.
Lemon was regarded as one of baseball's premier defensive centre fielders. After meeting some Jehovah's Witnesses while playing for the Chicago White Sox in the 1970s, Chet became such a devout follower that in 1991, when he nearly died from a blood disorder and was forbidden by his faith to undergo surgery.
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10. Travis Scott
Born on September 14, 1975, Travis Scott is a professional ice hockey goaltender who has excelled during his nine years in the American Hockey League. For the final six years of his career, he skated in Europe, where he was a part of the championship teams in the Russian Superleague, the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga, the Austrian Hockey League, and the Kontinental Hockey League. This 47-year-old has also played for the Los Angeles Kings.
11. Peter Knowles
Knowles entered the professional football league with Wolverhampton Wanderers and quickly became a household name thanks to his 101 career goals. He was born on September 30, 1945. Peter is one of the football players who are Jehovah's Witnesses.
Peter gave up football to devote his life to Jehovah's Witnessing, and he has since held jobs as diverse as milk delivery, window washing, and warehouse work for Marks & Spencer. This 77-year-old man gave up his flouring career for the greater good and did not regret it.
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12. Dave Meyers
Dave Meyers was born on April 21, 1953, and started playing basketball in college. The UCLA Bruins picked him up, and he went on to win two national titles while he was a team member. In 1975, Dave was a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks after being selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Later, in 1980, he retired to devote his time to his faith and family, and on October 9, 2015, at age 62, he passed away.
13. Kid Gavilán
Gavilán was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and was born on January 6, 1926, under Gerardo González, another name he was known by. Gavilán had a tumultuous boxing career, with 107 victories (27 by knockout), 30 defeats, and six draws, retiring in the late 1960s to convert to Jehovah's Witnesses; and being imprisoned for his faith by the Castro administration. This Olympic gold medalist died on February 13, 2003, at 77.
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14. Mark McCumber
McCumber is a professional golfer who has competed on the PGA and Champions Tours, who has won 10 times on the PGA Tour and who, alongside Ben Crenshaw, led the United States to victory in the World Cup. Mark has a background in golf course architecture and analysis for Fox Sports. He is a devoted member of Jehovah's Witnesses and often gives sermons about the faith, which he believes is widely misunderstood.
Do Jehovah's Witnesses watch sports?
While the religion does not have specific teachings directly addressing watching sports, they are encouraged to be mindful of their entertainment choices and avoid activities that conflict with their core beliefs and values. As with many aspects of life, Jehovah's Witnesses are encouraged to exercise discernment and balance their entertainment choices with their spiritual principles.
The athletes who are Jehovah's Witnesses demonstrate unwavering dedication both in their faith and their sport. Despite facing unique challenges and potential conflicts with certain sports practices, they have shown resilience and perseverance in staying true to their religious principles.
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