Wayne Simien Is Just Fine Without the NBA

Remember Wayne Simien? Circa 2005, Simien was a double-double machine, averaging 20.3 points and 11 rebounds for the Kansas Jayhawks. He was a first-team All-American and the Miami Heat picked him No. 29 in the 2005 NBA draft. ↵

↵Jump ahead to present day, where Simien is out of pro basketball, but this isn't one of those stories where some reporter found Simien working as a Wal-Mart greeter trying to explain how he blew through his NBA deal. No, Simien has taken on a life of religion and seems just fine with his decision. ↵

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↵J. Brady McCollough has the eye-opening story of Simien, his short NBA career, and where the ex-Jayhawk is today in the Kansas City Star. Among the highlights: ↵

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↵-- Simien did not kiss his wife, Katie, until their wedding day. “I wasn’t a virgin when I got married,” Simien told the Star, “so it was just another way of wanting to honor my wife, wanting to share that with not only her but also everybody that was at our wedding ceremony.” ↵

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↵-- The story puts a date of July 12, 2003, on when Simien became a Christian, and Simien says that he "stopped doing drugs, stopped drinking, stopped treating women badly, stopped playing selfishly on the court." Tough to argue with the results during his senior season. ↵

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↵-- Heat teammates were actually taking bets on how long it would take to corrupt him. “They were like ‘This dude’s a Christian. Give him two weeks until he’s on South Beach in a strip club with me, give him such and such amount of time until he meets Suzie in LA and does yada yada yada.’ They were taking bets on me, basically, cash-money bets right in front of me as far as how long it would take for me to have a hiccup or whatever.” ↵

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↵The story goes on to detail more, like how Simien reached out to players of similar beliefs -- like A.C. Green -- on the road so he'd have something to do when his teammates were off being heathens. ↵

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↵There are a lot of high profile athletes who are heavily tied to their faith in the public eye. Kurt Warner and Tim Tebow are the first two who spring to mind for me. But there are others. Mariano Rivera is described as "deeply religious" in this piece. Here's a list of Catholic Athletes for Christ. Other names that come to mind include Drew Brees, Dwight Howard, Michael Redd, Matt Hasselbeck and Jon Kitna. I've even had NBA players who had to skip pregame interviews in order to make it to pregame chapel. ↵

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↵I imagine a lot of people will walk away from the Simien story and think "his faith got him chased out of the NBA," but that would be the wrong way to take it. Sure, his rookie season, the locker room was probably a little bit uncomfortable, but Simien himself states he was getting more excited about helping people than playing ball. His stats might suggest he flamed out because he couldn't hack it, but it's obvious that he's right where he should be. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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