(Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics)

When my doctors told me the news that I was cleared to play basketball, I remember breaking down into tears. I know a lot of times people feel like their prayers aren't being heard, but you just have to be patient. God hears every prayer that we make, and if we just have a lot of faith in Him and trust whole-heartedly, He's always going to come through.

Since my prayers were for happiness and peace of mind, God must have decided that basketball indeed made me happy. When I put on that jersey again for the first time, it was unforgettable. I only played eight minutes in my first game back, but it was the best eight minutes of my career. I needed that.

I now play in China, and God has been so good to me. So have the fans. Honestly, I'm loved as much by the fans here – 8,000 miles away from home – as I was in America. I tried to pay the fans back with some good games, and I was fortunate enough to average 35 points a game for the Guangxi Rhinos.

If you were to take a look at me now, I'm a completely different player than the one that teams saw during my tryouts in 2014. I now play small forward and power forward, meaning I'm a 7'1 one player who shoots mid-range jumpshots. Still with one eye.

There's one more thing that's completely different now than four years ago. I'm a Dad!

At first, my girlfriend and I were scared with some pregnancy complications, but God gave us one of the healthiest babies ever. He looks just like me, and one of the cool things is that every day as he gets older, I discover new ways he reminds me of my younger self. His mannerisms, the way he walks, it's like a little flashback.


(Photo from my Instagram account)

He also makes me a better man.

There are times where I honestly don't feel like doing anything that day, but when you have a little kid who looks up to you, you have no choice but to work your hardest. When I'm out there on the court, I'm playing for God and for him.

At the end of the day, I wouldn't trade my path for anything. I don't resent losing my right eye, and I don't resent Marfan Syndrome. My response to both gave people hope, and it gave me the platform to live out John 4:8, which says “For those who do not love do not know the Lord, for God is Love.” I hope that people can tell I love. I love the game of basketball, I love my fans, I love my parents and my girlfriend, and now for a little more than a year, I have gotten to love my son.

And based on everything that has happened in my life, it's pretty apparent God loves me too.

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Thomas Hager6 Comments