By Chad Bonham
2013 NCAA National Championship: Louisville 82, Michigan 76 (April 8, 2013)
When Peyton Siva Jr. climbed the ladder to take part of a net-cutting ceremony following Louisville’s National Championship victory, it was symbolic of an even greater triumph in his life—especially for those who knew his incredible story.
Siva Jr. overcame so much to get to that point. His father was a suicidal alcoholic. His brother was a drug dealer. His half-sister was a thief. Many of his friends never made it off the streets of Seattle. All of the aforementioned people spent time in jail.
But somehow, Siva Jr. rose above his adverse circumstances and made his way to the University of Louisville where he became one of the most prolific point guards in school history. He did so because of his refusal to get caught up in the world around him. Siva Jr. credited his mother, his youth pastor, and his reliance on and adherence to biblical principles.
One passage in particular gave him the strength to resist the temptations that surrounded him on a daily basis.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
“Seeing my family members go through all of their situations, I’ve seen alcohol play a major part, and drugs,” Siva told USA Today. “So one thing for me was never to touch that stuff. That’s always been my motivation when I go out with my friends or see somebody else do it. I would never fall into that peer pressure because I’ve seen what it can do to my family and what it can do to other people’s families.”
But it was his youth pastor Danny Cage’s constant communication that played the biggest role in helping keep Siva Jr. on the straight and narrow path towards basketball glory and a hopeful future.
“He put it in terms I could understand — basketball-related terms — to really help me out, guide me along those terms,” Siva says. “I went to Bible study every week. Eventually, he just said, ‘You might as well come over to the church.’ My brother and sister started to go with me. I made all my friends go with me.”
Even after Siva Jr. had left Seattle to play at Louisville, Cage continued to encourage him with daily Bible verses via text messages. Earlier in that championship season, an ESPN reporter who had heard about Cage’s influence on Siva Jr. asked what his Bible verse was for that day. Without hesitation, the athlete stopped his warm-up routine and quoted it from memory.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
Siva Jr. certainly had his fair share of sufferings, but vowed to use his platform as a national championship basketball player to be an encouragement to those dealing with the same struggles he once faced.
“I have no problem with sharing my story if it can help anyone,” Siva said. “I try to help out whoever whenever they need it.”
This devotional is brought to you by Museum of the Bible, a 430,000 square foot museum being constructed 3 blocks south of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. and is set to open in November of 2017.
(Photos: Adam Glanzman)