Editor’s Note: This article is apart of content that was published from 2005-2010 under the direction of Jason Wenell. In March 2012 Darrell and Allison Vesterfelt became the new owners of Prodigal Magazine. Check out the new vision and direction of the publication.
So many people dream of playing for the Tar Heels of North Carolina, the Duke Blue Devils, and the Kentucky Wildcats. Teams that are rich in tradition have the facilities, the following, and the exposure to stay on top for decades and many young men dream of putting on those jerseys while playing AAU ball and high school basketball. They want their names to go down in history as being a part of these storied programs.
Stephen Curry also held that dream. His father had excelled in the NBA and he dreamed of going to an ACC school or an SEC school, but they took a pass on him during the recruiting process. Faced with the disappointment of not making it to where he thought he would have been, Stephen had to decide whether to give it all up or go somewhere else and make history. He chose Davidson and history would be rewritten in the next few years. We caught up with Stephen recently and he is our Men of God Spotlight.
Stephen Curry was born in 1988, the son of Dell Curry who was making a name for himself as an NBA player. Stephen attended high school in Charlotte and as his senior year came, he waited to see who would offer him a scholarship. He would receive an offer from tiny Davidson College and accepted the offer to play for Coach Bob McKillop. His game would never be the same. His faith in God, however, started at an earlier age.
Q – When did you give your life to Christ?
“It was in the fifth grade. I used to go to Central Church of God in Charlotte and I gave my life to Christ, went down to the altar down at the youth service, one Wednesday night.”
Q – How have you noticed that your life has changed since then?
“I think it’s just kept me focused in the life that I have going right now. My desire is to play basketball and I think my relationship with Christ has helped me to stay focused and give glory to heaven and reach people through the talent He’s given me. Case in point, last year’s NCAA Tournament and things like that. Just allowing the talents He’s given me to give glory to Him and further His kingdom through that.”
Q – When did you start writing Bible Verses on your shoes?
“That was when I first came to Davidson. I’d just opened up my first pair of team shoes and had a Sharpie next to me. I thought that was a pretty good idea to write down some verses. My mom’s favorite verse is Romans 8:28, which is on one side. The Philippians 4:13 was one that I thought about when I started to play basketball all of the time. I thought that would be a good daily reminder to have it on my shoes.”
Stephen Curry came onto the scene as a freshman at Davidson. He led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament after posting the second highest scoring average as a freshman in the NCAA. He scored 30 against the University of Maryland in an opening-round loss in the NCAA Tournament. The next year, he would explode, leading Davidson to the Final Eight while wowing the world with his shooting and unselfish play.
Q – What was the highlight for you from last season’s tournament?
“All of the games were a lot of fun. Playing at Ford Field in front of 70,000 people is just crazy. But I think that it was that first win that we had against Gonzaga in Raleigh and it was our first NCAA win for our school in, I think, 40+ years. Coach had been here, I think that was his twentieth year and they had been to the tournament a lot and hadn’t won one. We finally got him one and got the ball rolling. It was a pretty special time for us. You could see it on his face after we won. He was proud to coach us. We got him that one.”
Q – You were passed over by some bigger schools during the recruiting process. How do you think God used that to help you to get where you are now?
“I think I could have gotten caught up in the hype of going to a big name school and possibly lost my foundation of what I grew up on. For maybe a month or two, that’s all I thought about. I thought about how I needed to impress all these people to get in to the ACC and SEC schools. I needed to play outside of my game and do something extra special. Once it came down to it, everything happens for a reason and I think God wanted me here at Davidson just so that this story could unfold the way it has so far.”
Q – The disadvantages of playing at a small college are well-documented. When tournament time comes, often times, if you don’t win your conference tournament, you don’t get in the Big Dance. What, in your opinion, is an advantage to attending a small school like Davidson?
“I think the fact that we get to know everybody on campus is a very unique situation. Me and my teammates, after games, go to the Student Union and we’ll talk to all of our friends and our classmates, who we all know. You can sit down and have a conversation with them and thank them for coming to the game. I don’t think you really get that at a big school where the athletes kind of go missing from game to game. Academically, it’s nice with the student to teacher ratio.”
Q – Your name was hot last year after the tournament. What made you decide to come back to school for another year?
“Just realizing that I wasn’t ready for that jump yet. I’ve been blessed to have my dad play 16 years in the NBA, so he can give me his insight about when the right time comes to go to the next level and what I needed to do to get better, so I wasn’t rushed into a decision. I love college and I love my teammates so it wasn’t a hard decision to come back. It’s something I wanted to do and it’s worked out so far. I’ve had the opportunity to get better and make my game a whole lot better.”
Stephen constantly reflected attention back to his teammates and his coaches as we spoke. It was not an act. That is who he is as a person. He holds an understanding that in basketball and in life, we need others to make it through to the next level. In today’s world, that is a rare quality for an athlete to have.
His humility was shocking and his overall nature and demeanor was refreshing to see in a world consumed with self and greed. Stephen is someone who looks to see things beneath the surface, not settling for simple appearance but looking for depth. It is how he is as a person, having great depth of character for someone who is only twenty years old.
Q – Why do you think God has given you this opportunity to be in the spotlight?
“I’m not sure, to be honest with you. It is a blessing to have everything happen the way that it has, so far, since I’ve been here at school. I try to stay as humble and use every opportunity to deflect attention off of me to Him. So I have that little sign I do after the game and during games and Bible verses on my shoes and use my humility and the situation that I’m in to bring glory to Him. The people who are watching basketball games might not know that somebody’s trying to witness to them while they’re playing, but it’s something that I try to do.”
Q – With all of the attention you are getting now, you still seem to be team-focused, which is odd in today’s sports world. What keeps you grounded and focused?
“Just knowing that basketball is a blessing and a gift. My coach here at Davidson, Coach McKillop, preaches that in his own way. (He says) That we have a blessed opportunity to play basketball and right now, you have to just cherish that. I think to be selfish about it or take the spotlight, put all of the attention on yourself, would take advantage of that situation. Personally, I know that my teammates, coaches, and everyone else involved are as much of a part of it as I am. With that in mind, I give glory to God for my talents and whoever is helping me, they get the credit too.
Davidson is working towards another NCAA Tournament berth this season. If they make it, the cameras will again shine upon this young star as the media will chronicle each step Davidson and Stephen Curry make along the way. Stephen, however, will continue to point the cameras and the world to a Savior who has changed his life. He wants history to say that he stood for Christ in everything.