From Hoops to Hope Leadership with Willie Briscoe
Many kids dream of becoming Michael Jordan or Lebron James. But for Willie Briscoe, basketball was a means to keep him out of trouble. Even though Briscoe didn’t have a desire or knowledge of the game, a teacher saw the potential in him and a path for his future. He later had a change of heart that made him leave the sport, not returning for ten years. During this time, Briscoe would go on to become a model double for NBA players such as Michael Jordan, David Robinson and others. We interviewed Briscoe in 2015 and talked to him about how he came to know Christ and the changes he sees in kids that are involved in his Hope Leadership Foundation.
Briscoe opens up to us about going from being an athletic model to how the Lord called him back to basketball.
“When I was away from basketball for almost ten years, at age twenty-eight, right after I got saved, I began to have a burdened heart and a strong desire to play basketball. I had completely left the athletic modeling world and all of a sudden I get a call to do a job. I kept getting the same call; it was a direct booking. They wanted me, so I finally took the job…and it was to be David Robinson’s double. So I’m fasting and praying and the Lord begins to tell me that I’m going to play basketball again. I’m living in Orange County, and I go up to Los Angeles to UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion to shoot a Gillette Foam commercial. Tim Duncan’s rookie year, or sophomore year, and David Robinson and we’re shooting a ‘rookie versus the veteran’ commercial. I’m David Robinson. I come out of my RV and David Robinson comes out of his RV and we’re dressed head to toe alike. Here’s the only guy that I knew as a Christian basketball player and the Lord says to me, ‘You’re going to play basketball again.’ Finally playing basketball, and having a heart for playing basketball, matched up because I had a purpose of playing to glorify God as opposed to glorifying myself…”
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 1:4-6
“Interacting with the kids and recognizing that they’re approaching life with prayer, they’re learning the Word of God, they’re practicing principles like the Fruit of the Spirit. I can tie in behavior positively, or negatively, to the Word of God. To see them get it, to see them not simply just memorize Scripture, but to live it out is the biggest change and to watch their lives start to be changed by the Word of God because they’re reading the Word of God. They ask for a copy of the Bible so they can read it at home. When our kids see prayers being answered. That is making a difference in their life. It’s watching a bunch of little miracles happen on a daily basis and imagining what the hope is for these kids in the future…We’re grabbing kids in third grade before they’re thinking about abortion, before they’re runaways, picked up for child trafficking, before they’re thinking about teen sex, before they’re thinking about doing drugs…we’re preempting them with the Word of God, impacting almost all of those other ministries so hopefully in the future their [failure] numbers will be lower. There will be fewer kids that are coming into a teen pregnancy clinic, or less kids that are thinking about suicide…”
Be a mentor. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to be a mentor, you just have to be willing to share your life with another person. Check out ministries and organizations in your area or at your church that already have mentorship programs set up. Apply to be a mentor. You don’t have to meet with the person every day. Commit to a couple hours each month and be open to that time growing. Think back through the people that have made a positive impact in your life like parents, coaches, and teachers. Ask God how you can have a similar impact on someone else’s life.
Pray for the youth. There are so many challenges that youth face today. Pray that God would raise up similar leaders and organizations like Briscoe and Hope Leadership Foundation to reach youth all around the world with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray that their hearts would be open to receiving Christ. Ask God to supply all of their resources including volunteers. If you are able to, ask your local church or youth organizations if there are any ways that you can help. It might be volunteering your home for a meeting, providing snacks for an outreach or small group, or helping them with the business side of what they do.
Use your platform to share your faith. God has given each of us a platform to share our faith. It might be with our sports team, classmates, or other moms at the park. Ask God who he wants you to share your faith with. Pray that he would give you the words and show you the time to share. If you are nervous to share your faith, write down your faith story and share it with a close friend, small group member or pastor and ask them for their feedback first.
To read our entire interview with Willie Briscoe, click here.