Many athletes are heard to thank God for their success after winning the big game. We see some footballers/soccer players pointing their two hands into the air after scoring a goal.
There are athletes, like Neymar, that are quite vocal about their faith.
There are also athletes with connections to religious leaders, athletes who sacrificed their competitiveness for their religion, and athletes that have changed the way we view a sport by how powerful their faith was.
The Brazillian playmaker revelation famously said that “Life only makes sense when our highest ideal is to serve Christ”.
Known for his magical feet on the pitch, off it he is described as a humble individual who tithes 10% of his mega salary to his home Church in Brazil.
Warriors forward Kevin Durant was named Finals MVP after Golden State finished its sweep of Cleveland with a 108-85 win in Game 4.
In an interview with Life Church, Durant said he works on his relationship with Jesus Christ every day, just like he works on his basketball skills.
“It’s not going to just happen with basketball,” Durant said in the interview. “I didn’t just wake up and decide I wanted to be good, and it just happened without me putting the work in. As a Christian, I just try to do little things every single day to put work in to know Jesus, to know more about his word and to grow. I think I can relate that to basketball and become a better basketball player and a better Christian by always putting in work.”
Steph Curry is a deeply devout Christian. It’s on his skin (he has a Bible tattoo), on his shoes (he has Bible quotes on his laces), and in his speeches (he stated during his MVP speeches that God was one of the primary factors in his success and he tries to faithfully follow God’s will).
He has a Bible study group with other male athletes through daily group text messaging and has explained the connection of players on his team, the Golden State Warriors, by them attending church together and sharing inspiration in their beliefs.
Kaka is perhaps the biggest Christian icon in football, the Brazilian famously wore a t-shirt reading ‘I belong to Jesus’ after Milan’s Champions League triumph in 2007.
He celebrates every goal by thanking the Lord and plans to become a pastor once he calls time on a wonderful playing career.
Venus and Serena Williams
Venus and Serena Williams have dominated women’s tennis for years, and the two are both devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were raised that way, homeschooled by their mother.
Serena has even said she won’t date another man, unless he’s a Jehovah’s Witness as well.
Both have also expressed that they don’t vote in any elections, based on their religious beliefs.
In John 17:14 and other passages in the Bible, Jesus says of his followers: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Jehovah’s Witnesses interpret this as a rule to remain neutral in all political matters.
Even though Jehovah’s Witnesses discourage members from participating in competitive sports, both Williams sisters state that their faith makes them stronger for tennis.
The Williams sisters are independently considered fantastical players, and dominant as a doubles pair.
Retired football player/wrestler Bill Goldberg is best known for his undefeated winning streak (174-1) in World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Goldberg is Jewish and has said that he had a spiritual awakening later in his career, but even early on, he made his religious identity a cornerstone of his professional identity.
The Uruguayan striker is a member of www.atletidicristo.org, a website for the ‘Athletes of Christ’ along with fellow greats such as Lucio and Kaka.
He also detailed in his book ‘What I have in my heart’ about his faith and how approaching Jesus has changed his life.
Retired boxing legend Muhammed Ali converted to the Nation of Islam in the mid-60s.
He became a lightning rod of controversy during the tumultuous time, and often took conflicting positions on issues like civil rights.
Ali converted to mainstream Sunni Islam in 1975 and in 2005 he embraced the spiritual practices of Sufism.
Another man born in the Philippines, Manny Pacquiao was born and raised as a Catholic but has since converted to Evangelicalism.
Pacquiao actually recently made some news, when he threw down a Bible quote on Floyd Mayweather, warning him of God’s mysterious ways.
“He (Mayweather) should fear God,” Pacquiao said, advising him to heed the biblical passage reading “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
He is soccer player who captained the United States in their last World Cup run. Clint Dempsey is open about his faith as a devout Roman Catholic. He has not been shy in saying he prays a lot for God to help him in his profession.
Dempsey grew up going to church every Sunday and at 12 years old, had an experience that had him questioning his faith.
His sister died from a brain aneurysm and he struggled for years to find faith. He says he did, and went to the bible for answers.
“Now my faith in Christ is what gives me confidence for the future. I know that through both good times and bad, He is faithful and will watch over me.”
Tebow might be the most high profile religious athlete in he world at the moment, but he’s certainly not the only athlete with an outspoken enthusiasm for his faith.
Tebow’s on-the-field prayer and good-natured embracing of the “Tebowing” phenomena have been highlighted by every sports publication in the country at this point.
While he was bounced around in the NFL on three different teams and is now playing Minor League Baseball in Arizona, he states his profound connection to God and his faith have kept him grounded during his professional athletic career.
Religion was a large part of his family life, with both of his parents being missionaries.
He has given to numerous Christian foundations and has been outspoken about his beliefs and faith, even leading to “Tebowing” a physical gesture meant to mimic the numerous times Tim Tebow would kneel for prayer during games.