Although I've never met James, there are a lot of connections that have enabled me to follow his journey over the years. I lived just outside of Akron for several years and was a member of a church in west Akron, The House of the Lord, that James attended with friends periodically throughout his youth.
That is why I'm looking forward to an upcoming documentary film, More Than a Game, that will be opening in a few select cities this Friday. The film follows the story of the friendship between James and several friends that grew up together and went onto win a national high school basketball championship.
Their coach, Dru Joyce, was interviewed by Christianity Today regarding the movie. Joyce, a strong Christian who was also a member at The House of the Lord during my time there, reflects upon how he views his role as a basketball coach:
"As a Christian, I don't believe that you can separate your faith from anything you do. When I got the opportunity to do the travel team, I saw its purpose as using basketball to teach life skills. And as time moved on and I became a better coach, seven principles developed as the foundation for everything we did: humility, unity, discipline, thankfulness, servanthood, integrity, and passion. So now I hope to grow young men that exemplify those qualities and will carry them into life, whether it includes basketball or not.I appreciate Dru's perspective on the influence that he has on the lives of these young men. Games will come and go but it is the lessons that are learned through athletics that last long after the buzzer sounds. As a coach myself, I hope that my players are much more concerned about the type of people they are becoming than what a scoreboard says.
Also, I've tried over time to emphasize the relationships. When it's all said and done, the relationships are all the players are going to take out of here. I want them to understand that basketball is a vehicle to help them get from Point A to Point B. It's not the be-all and end-all. They should use basketball and not let it use them."
You can view the trailer for the movie here.