||Wayne Simien #25 of the Miami Heat and Kenyon Martin #6 of the Denver Nuggets compete for a rebound on December 3, 2005 at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Five years ago, Wayne Simien was beginning his career as an NBA player for
Miami. Then, just last year, he gave up the money and the fame of the game to
begin a whole new career as a youth minister.
“Istill love the game of basketball, can play at a high level and make a
great living, however I have more of a passion to pursue other things. That
passion being for Christian ministry and youth athletics,” Simien
announced in May 2009.
“I will be ministering through the ‘Called To Greatness’
organization (iamctg.org) that
I started last year, as well as working with Morningstar Church ministering to
the youth and college students.”
Simien added that “this is an exciting time in my life. I can honestly
say that I am more excited about this transition into ministry than I was on
college signing day or even draft night.”
In 2005, “Big Dub” Wayne was an honor roll student and two-time
All-American when NBA team Miami Heat picked him in the first round.
Alongside superstars Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning,
he played 46 games in a dream-like rookie year that finished with the
Heat’s first finals appearance and only NBA Championship in their
The money he was receiving was huge, but Simien kept grounded unlike many
“I had a mindset that every penny that I earned, whether it was in the
NBA or not, wasn’t mine,” Simien told the Kansan newspaper.
“I didn’t do the typical rookie thing.”
Instead, he donated money to charity and to his church.
“I didn’t have any elaborate lifestyle,”
Simien said. “I know that God is my provider whether it’s in the
NBA, being a minister or working at McDonald’s.”
There are many who call themselves Christians, but the choices Wayne has made
indicate he is a different sort.
He proclaims a faith consisting of a personal relationship with God, through
His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two years before getting to the NBA, during his breakout sophomore year at
Kansas University, Wayne found himself searching for something greater to live
for than just himself and basketball.
“At that time it was what can you do for me and what I can do to excel
my career as a basketball player and being the big man on campus,”
Simien told the Kansan newspaper.
He regularly had mood swings and was constantly emotionally distant, according
to Wayne’s mother. And the clubs, women, and alcohol he loved were doing
nothing to remedy his unhappiness.
Two months into his sophomore season, he dislocated his shoulder and became
depressed as he could only watch as his college team was knocked out of the
championship. Without basketball to distract him, Wayne began wondering,
“What is my purpose?”
Simien had often attended church with his parents, because it was expected by
his community. Now, he turned to KU football player Dan Coke, a campus
religious adviser, who had been asking Wayne to attend a Bible study
That summer, Wayne realized he needed Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior,
then in July he publicly demonstrated his new faith in Jesus by being baptised
at a Christian athletes conference in Texas. The following semester he moved
in with Dan and binned his cell phone of past girlfriends’
Two years later, during his NBA draft media teleconference, Wayne said,
“It’s been a combination of things over my first two years of
college [that helped me solidify my faith]. I was looking for something
greater to live for besides myself and basketball, and I found that with Jesus
Christ. I can’t think of anything greater to live for than the kingdom
“God has done miraculous works over my life over the past two years, and
I can’t help but to tell people about it — how Jesus Christ has
affected my life.”
Trusting that God was in control of his life, Wayne gained the strength to
handle not only the highs of sport, but the lows of injury that would follow
his entry into the NBA.
Salmonella poisoning lead to his release from Miami in 2006, then leg injuries
lead to Minnesota accepting, then releasing him.
Beyond his basketball career, Wayne discovered two great loves. He met his
wife Katherine at church. They married in 2006 and now two children, Selah and
Rael. Then, in 2008, while playing professionally for a Spanish team, he began
hosting youth basketball camps in the Caribbean, the Philippines and Israel.
Youth ministry has since become the focus of his life.
Unlike many sporting heroes, Wayne Simien’s passion is not for himself
and his greatest hope is that many people will come to know Jesus Christ
personally and receive His forgiveness, power and eternal life, just as he