Photo Credit: James Jones, by Keith Allison (originally posted to Flickr as 00060911) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

James Jones has had a fulfilling NBA career. He has been part of three NBA Championships and has played alongside some of the game’s greatest players, including LeBron James, who has also been his teammate on all three titles.

Now Jones is in a position to collect the fourth ring after the Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round of this year’s NBA Playoffs, and hold a 1-0 lead over Toronto.

“I was raised in the church, and Mom and my grandparents made sure I was exposed
to spiritual things.” ~James Jones

The 6-8 shooting guard from the University of Miami is only one of nine players to heave reached the NBA Finals in six straight seasons. He has never been on an NBA team with a losing record, and he has only been on one team that missed the playoffs. He won the NBA Three-Point Contest during the NBA All-Star Weekend during the 2010-11 season.

“I was raised in the church, and Mom and my grandparents made sure I was exposed
to spiritual things.”

James Jones on how he was grounded in faith

His carefree demeanor and attitude have played a huge part in his success. He rarely lets things upset him and has always relied on his faith in God to get him through anything.

The journey for Jones has been rewarding but also challenging. “When you try to become a professional athlete, you face a lot of ups and downs,” Jones said. “There is jubilation, and there is depression. There is excitement, and there is defeat.”

“It’s always been big for me,” Jones told me of his faith in Christ before suiting up in Cleveland to play against Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago. “I was raised in the church, and Mom and my grandparents made sure I was exposed to spiritual things.”

As a result of growing up with unbelievable basketball skills, Jones also had a solid Christian foundation to help guide him during his NBA journey.

Nicknamed “Champ,” he was selected by the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the NBA draft in 2003. Since then, he has played for the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, and the Miami Heat before coming to Cleveland.

The journey for Jones has been rewarding but also challenging. “When you try to become a professional athlete, you face a lot of ups and downs,” Jones said. “There is jubilation, and there is depression. There is excitement, and there is defeat.”

That emotional roller coaster can leave a person unstable and vulnerable if not grounded on a solid foundation. One thing has remained constant for Jones — his faith.

“There is something bigger than this game.”

James Jones on his salvation

“Having my Christian faith and being able to rely on God helps me stay calm even when things don’t look good at times,” he said. “It has been the reason I can do what I do.”

Jones loves the game of basketball without a doubt. It has provided a wonderful living for him and given him the opportunity to tell people along the way about the Lord he serves. He is married with three children, and he runs the Jones Legacy Foundation — its mission is to make a difference in the lives of children who do not have access to positive role models.

“There is something bigger than this game,” he said. “I’m all about people, and I can – through this game – engage and inspire people. Ultimately, my salvation is my most cherished prize I’m going after.”

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 KJV

He is proud of the three championship rings he has earned over his career. But he sees the true value in a much bigger reward. “When I think of what I’m going to gain after this world, it makes the tough moments in basketball look like small potatoes, which they really are.”

Do you rely on God to keep you calm during the tough times? Does your faith keep you grounded? Tell me about it, please.

Del Duduit is the Editor of Southern Ohio Christian Voice. He is an award-winning writer, freelancer, blogger, speaker, and author of Buckeye Believer: 40 Days of Devotions for the Ohio State Faithful. (http://bit.ly/BuckeyeBeliever). He lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie, and they attend Rubyville Community Church. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.