One year ago I wrote about the spiritual inspiration of an outstanding basketball player called Thomas Robinson from Kansas University. Kansas made it to the grand final. This year I compose a similar story about Peyton Siva who plays for Louisville. The Cardinals were ranked 4th on the past year’s performance, but as I write this blog have been named overall number 1 seed for the NCAA tournament which begins this week.
In the championship game of the Big East tournament on Saturday night, Louisville beat Syracuse 78-61 in an incredible game that saw the Cardinals turn a 16-point, second-half deficit into an 18-point lead. The Cardinals turned up the full court pressure and started playing the kind of defense that had them win ten straight games. Suddenly Syracuse couldn’t buy a basket, and the Cardinals didn’t miss. The run was 27-3 and when it was over Louisville had a 56-48 lead. In just seven minutes everything had changed.
“Our press is pretty much like controlled chaos”, said Louisville’s Peyton Siva, who was the tournament MVP. Louisville had eleven steals, including four by Siva, who became the school’s all-time leader in that category last Friday night.
“Peyton Siva is one of the top three players as people I’ve ever coached in my life. He’s just a remarkable young man”, declared Louisville’s coach Rick Pitino who has himself built a reputation as a college coach.
Each day Siva receives a text message which contains a Bible verse. It’s from Pastor Danny Cage. Before he found Cage and his church, Siva watched his father sink into addiction and prison. Only 13 years old, Peyton drove a car around Seattle to find his father who had a gun in his lap. “Dad, I know you love me and I know you’d do anything for me. I don’t need you to go in and out of jail. I need you to be there”.
“That was a turning point”, his father stated. “I committed to going to treatment…..so I could be there for my son today”.
During Peyton’s childhood, his older siblings spent time in jail. The youngest child, Peyton was first to graduate from high school.
Then came the church, where Cage opened the door. “He put it in terms I could understand – basketball terms” Peyton declared, “and I went to Bible study every week. My brother and sister started to go with me. I made all my friends go with me”.
“I’ve seen alcohol and drugs play a major part with my family members. So one thing for me was never to touch that stuff. I would never fall into that peer pressure, because I’ve seen what it can do to my family”.
Peyton has inspired his father and his siblings to improve their lives. His brother went to community college, and his sister is going to cosmetology school. His dad is coaching youth football and basketball and mentoring high school students, trying to give back to the community that helped raise his son. “My son is my rock” Peyton’s dad admits. “The encouraging words that come out of him…..it’s healing”.
Watch for Peyton Siva and Louisville in the 2013 men’s NCAA tournament which starts this week………
**Excerpted from “Siva is Louisville’s Spiritual Leader”, by Nicole Auerbach, USA Today, 28 December 2012.
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……
“You are the light of the world……Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew, chapter 5).
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