Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian denomination that originated in the 1870s and has over 8 million members worldwide. They are known for their door-to-door preaching, their rejection of blood transfusions, and their refusal to participate in politics, war, or holidays. Some NBA players have been or are currently Jehovah’s Witnesses, either by birth or by conversion.
In this article, we will explore how many ex-NBA players are Jehovah’s Witnesses and what are their stories.
Ex-NBA Players Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses
According to various sources, there are at least three ex-NBA players who are confirmed to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are:
- Danny Granger: He played for the Indiana Pacers, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Miami Heat from 2005 to 2015. He was raised in a religious household by Jehovah’s Witnesses, but was not baptized until 2017, two years after his retirement from the NBA.
- Darren Collison: He played for the New Orleans Hornets, the Indiana Pacers, the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Sacramento Kings from 2009 to 2019. He retired at the age of 31 to focus on his family and his faith. He said in a statement: “I am one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and my faith means everything to me.”
- Dewayne Dedmon: He played for the Golden State Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Orlando Magic, the San Antonio Spurs, the Atlanta Hawks, the Sacramento Kings, and the Miami Heat from 2013 to 2021. He was raised in a household by Jehovah’s Witnesses and his mother forbade him from playing basketball. He defied her wishes and pursued his dream of becoming an NBA player.
Other Rumored NBA Players Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses
There are also some other NBA players who have been rumored or speculated to be Jehovah’s Witnesses, but there is no definitive evidence or confirmation to support these claims. Some of them are:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He played for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers from 1969 to 1989. He converted to Islam in 1968, but some sources suggest that he was influenced by Jehovah’s Witnesses in his early years.
- Serena Williams: She is one of the best female tennis players of all time. She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and four Olympic gold medals. She was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness by her mother, but has not been very vocal about her faith. She has said that she is “not really practicing” but still identifies as a Jehovah’s Witness.
- Coco Rocha: She is a Canadian model and actress who has appeared on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and other magazines. She converted to Jehovah’s Witness in 2009 after marrying James Conran, who was born into the faith. She has said that she does not celebrate birthdays or Christmas and that she preaches door-to-door.
The Stories of NBA Players Who Embraced Jehovah’s Witness
Some NBA players have embraced Jehovah’s Witness after undergoing multiple religious belief changes beforehand. Here are some of their stories:
- A.C. Green: He played for the Los Angeles Lakers, the Phoenix Suns, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Miami Heat from 1985 to 2001. He holds the record for the most consecutive games played in NBA history with 1,192. He joined Jehovah’s Witness in the mid-1980s and remained celibate until he married in 2002 at the age of 38.
- Detlef Schrempf: He played for the Dallas Mavericks, the Indiana Pacers, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Portland Trail Blazers from 1985 to 2001. He was a three-time All-Star and a two-time Sixth Man of the Year. He converted to Jehovah’s Witness in the mid-1990s and has been an active preacher ever since.
- Reggie Theus: He played for the Chicago Bulls, the Kansas City Kings/Sacramento Kings, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Orlando Magic from 1978 to 1991. He was a two-time All-Star and a one-time All-NBA Second Team member. He became a Jehovah’s Witness after retiring from basketball and has been involved in various coaching and broadcasting roles.
- Michael Adams: He played for the Sacramento Kings, the Washington Bullets/Wizards, and the Charlotte Hornets from 1985 to 1996. He was an All-Star in 1992 and holds the record for most three-pointers made in a single season with 379. He converted to Jehovah’s Witness after his playing career and has worked as a coach and an analyst.
- Mark Jackson: He played for seven teams from 1987 to 2004, most notably for the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1988 and ranks fourth in NBA history in assists with 10,334. He converted to Christianity in 1992, but later became a Jehovah’s Witness and is now a renowned basketball commentator.
- Wayman Tisdale: He played for the Indiana Pacers, the Sacramento Kings, and the Phoenix Suns from 1985 to 1997. He was a three-time All-American at the University of Oklahoma and a gold medalist at the 1984 Olympics. He became a Jehovah’s Witness after converting in the mid-1990s and was also a successful musician in love with jazz music. He died in 2009 at the age of 44 from cancer-related complications.
- Dave Meyers: He played for the Milwaukee Bucks from 1975 to 1980. He was the second overall pick in the 1975 NBA draft and won a championship with the Bucks in 1976. He retired at the age of 26 to spend more time with his family and practice his Jehovah’s Witness faith. He died in 2015 at the age of 62 from cancer.
- Greg Ostertag: He played for the Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings from 1995 to 2006. He was a 7-foot-2 center who was known for his defense and shot-blocking. He converted to Jehovah’s Witness after his retirement and has participated in various charity events and basketball camps.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a minority group among NBA players, but they have made their presence felt in the league. Some of them have been outspoken about their faith, while others have kept it private. Some of them have retired early to devote themselves to their religion, while others have balanced their careers and their beliefs. Their stories show that NBA players are not only athletes, but also human beings with diverse backgrounds and convictions.