1 Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Every March, for the past 13 years, my mind wanders back to the 2005 Conference USA Tournament where the Memphis Tigers went up against sixth ranked Louisville. Both teams played their hearts out until the final 6 seconds of the game. The score was 75-73, Louisville, but Memphis had possession with 3 free throw opportunities.
A moment of calm waved over the room, because at the line was none other than Darius Washington, Jr. Darius was a great player with a great free throw scoring average. With confidence in his heart and a big smile, he looks over at his Coach and says “I got this!”
Darius puts up the first free throw and… swish! Nothing but net! He puts up the second free throw and… brick! He missed. Shockwaves ran throughout the stadium. Darius was visibly shaken and in disbelief. At this point, you could hear a pin drop in the newly built FedEx Forum. He puts up the third free throw to send them into overtime and… brick!! He missed that final free throw and the game was over!
Sheer devastation hit the young player and his body fell on the floor. There was no consoling him. Hearts broke all across the nation as thousands of people watched Darius Washington, Jr weep, balled up in his jersey. That was the moment he’d drilled and prepared for almost his entire life. How could he miss two free throws? It was too much for the college freshman and he wanted to quit.
That game has stayed with me for years. Whenever I think about it, I always think of the two other people impacted by that heartbreaking loss… Darius’ coach, John Calipari, and Darius’ father, Darius Washington, Sr. Both men felt responsible for the loss and felt the burden that came with it. Coach Cal gave Darius Jr a place to call home, where he could use his gift and hone the skills that his father helped to build. Darius Sr. was there with him for those early morning, late night drills that helped to develop his physical and mental strength. They all felt like that Conference USA tourney was their game! So when one hurt, they all hurt. When Darius missed that shot, they all felt like they had missed it. It took months of support, love and encouragement to get Darius out of that broken place. When he thought his career was over, those men where there to remind him that one setback doesn’t mean it’s over.
This story is especially meaningful for me during Men’s Month at Faith. So many times, men face terrible, heartbreaking setbacks that can bring them to their knees. Past mistakes can make them feel like they’ve suffered an insurmountable loss and life is over. Fellas, if this is you, please know that you are not alone. God has sent Faith church some wonderful men of God that are right there with you. They are willing to take on your hurt and pain to show you that life isn’t over. You’d be amazed at the loss and pain that Jesus has helped the men of Faith recover from. Jesus can and will do the same for you. You don’t have to go at it alone. Ask Jesus to guide you and rely on the great men he’s placed in our lives.
If you’re wondering what ever happened to Darius. He went on to play in the NBA and still plays on a career level overseas in Greece, for the Iraklis Thessaloniki team.
Heavenly Father, I have messed up so many times and I’ve fallen so low that it feels like I’ll never get up again. God cover me with your blood and give me the strength to move on. Help me to be strong enough to open up to the men of God you’ve placed in my life that can provide wisdom, support and love so that I won’t have to face this life alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
By: Min. April Carter