Keith Spencer II, ” I walk by faith ” – Feb 2, 2010 (by Fred Roggen)

5779De voorlopig laatste interview uit de ‘Oude Doos’. Een heel open interview met Keith Spencer.

I had a chance recently to talk with DeFriesland Aris forward Keith Spencer (203-F-85, agency: Hart Sports Mngm) about his experiences playing ball in Holland and his devout faith as a Christian as well. It was truly a pleasure speaking with him and having the chance to know some of his thoughts.

Where did basketball begin for you?
I began to play basketball at the age of 4. My parents placed me in many different activities, but basketball is the one that stuck with me.

Glancing back at college for a second. Do you have any favorite moments, shots, games, anything in particular that you like to look back on?
When I think about my college career, the first thing that pops in my head is the intense training we were given. I’m thankful it, as it has greatly prepared my way for more competitive professional basketball. During that time, I would dread waking up for 5:00 in the morning runs, and intense military type training given to us by coaches. Looking back it now, I see the team building that took place, the unity it provided for us, and overall preparing me for where I am today.

Spencer_Keith1What factors influenced your decision to stay another year in Leeuwarden?
It was dropped in my spirit during the 2008-2009 season that I would return to Leeuwarden for my second professional year of basketball. During the negotiation process I lost sight for a moment of what God was telling me to do, and gave the team a hard time about coming back. In prayer I regained my obedience, and decided to come back to De Friesland Aris.

How is your year going so far in terms of basketball?
The year is going well in terms of basketball. We are winning more games, and are a playoffs prospect. This is much needed for this program and I am happy to be a part of it.

This team has shown it can come back from any deficit and win a close game that can go either way. What’s your mentality when the game is on the line in a pressure situation?
Its just like you said. We have the ability to come back no matter what our standing is in the game. I keep this in mind throughout those close games, and focus on doing whatever I can to help the team.

In which areas do you feel the team needs to improve?
As a team we need improve in sustaining our defense throughout the entire game. Once we have that down, we will really run teams out the gym!

Talk about your role on the team – what do you try to bring to the team?
I really try not to get wrapped up in stats because I feel that throws my focus off on our collaborative efforts as a team. I really focus on the little things such as being THE defensive stopper on the team. That is one thing I take personal and feel that is one of the elements I bring to the team.

What do you most enjoy about playing for DeFriesland Aris?
I really enjoy the community involvement that De Friesland Aris has offered. I commend the general manager and his staff for being such warm, approachable, and genuine people. They really make this experience that much more of a blessing.

Describe your relationship with coach Pete Miller?
Coach Pete Miller and I have a healthy relationship. I respect him as a coach, and I feel he respects me not only as player, but as a man. I understand his philosophy and I do my best in helping him achieve his goals.

Keith, confidence-wise, do you feel that differently than a year ago at this time?
I’ve always had confidence in my team. It feels better knowing that we have what it takes to win any game.

image-2642160Talk about why you do what you do and to whom your emotions are directed
I feel that God has blessed me with this ability to play basketball. In return, I owe it to Him to step out on the court, play my hardest, and give Him all the glory.

And what is your Christian story and background?
My parents have always raised me in the Christian church. As a youth I didn’t always fully know what it meant to walk in Christian values, and I had my times when I wasn’t living the life God wanted me to live. I am happy to stand before you today and say that I walk by faith and continue to do so. My story is not a simple one, and is actually quite long. I have a blog in which I have written a story about my coming back to Christ, please feel free to check it out at http://tasteofablessedlife.blogspot.com in the About Us section.

How does your faith affect what you do on the court?
My faith keeps me humble on the basketball court. I know that at any moment God can take it away from me, because as He gives, He takes away (Job 1:21). So I remain thankful, and grateful to be in the position that I am in.

Is it tough to be a Christian and a professional sportsman? Is it a hard thing to balance the two?
For me it is not tough to balance the two because I am a Christian first. With that being held supreme in my life, there is no need to balance. Life can be tough, whether you are Christian, an athlete, or not. I can only personally testify of how great it is to allow God to direct my steps.

Have you had any opportunities to witness through your sports experience?
Yes, I feel like I have had opportunities to witness throughout my professional career, and I am thankful for those opportunities. My main goal is to be an example, to be a living witness, and a sacrifice.

Have you ever been pressured by teammates to do something that you, as a Christian, werent comfortable with? If so, how did you handle it?
I have not felt pressured by any teammates. My teammates are well aware of my faith and respect it.

What advice would you give to aspiring Christian athletes?
My advice to aspiring Christian athletes, is to be firm in their faith, and not allow the world to conform them. Remember who you are, what you represent in all that you do. Remember through it all, it is God’s plan, not ours, and His plan will prevail.

Finally, how far can DeFriesland Aris go this season? Which are the goals for you, personally, and for your team?
As long as we continue to play as we have been, we can go as far as we want to go. Our goal as a team is to WIN. My personal goals are to continue to develop as a well rounded player and spread the gospel message. Thanks to you, I have been able to continue to make strides in that aspect of my goals.

Henry and Ross Bekkering, “Two Brothers, One Passion” – by Fred Roggen

Wederom eentje uit de ‘Oude Doos’, was een leuke ervaring met deze twee sympathieke broers.

 

Ross-Henry

Ross-Henry

I had the change to talk with Henry and Ross Bekkering (203-F-85, agency: Scorers 1st Sportmanagement), two brothers who have a really close relationship. Henry Bekkering (198-F-85, agency: Scorers 1st Sportmanagement, college: E.Washington) started his pro-career last season in Holland, after missing half of the season through an injury, he had a solid second half. Now he has signed a deal with Dutch champion GasTerra Flames. Henry became an internet phenomenon in 2002 when footage of him at a high school dunk competition began to make the rounds onlineHe works with Catholic Family Services mentoring and working with people with disabilities.
Ross Bekkering is a 2.03 m Power Forward with a Canadian and a Dutch passport just graduated from the University of Calgary and is looking forward to starting his pro career. He representing Canada in 2007 and 2009 in the FISU (University Games). He is a fun guy to be around and knows what it means to be a friend and teammate. It is kown that he sets high standards for himself and works hard to reach his goals.
The brothers realize that they are not like other families. The amount of time they spend together exceeds the amount of time most other siblings spend together.
The Bekkering brothers, running this summer a basketball camp for ambitious 14-18 year olds.

So let’s start from the beginning…What were you guys like as kids growing up?
Henry: I was a fairly hyper kid growing up, Ross was definitely more calm. I always had a lot of energy. We come from a big family and we both played a lot of different sports growing up. We had and still have a very close knit family.
Ross: Well I always felt like I was a pretty average kid. I mean looking back I guess our family might have been slightly more hyper and pretty much all the kids had a passion for sports so maybe we weren’t your typical family. In terms of the dynamic between me and Henry, we were very effective at both irritating our other siblings and each other. This resulted in both of us (especially me being the younger brother) being able to take a pounding !

You both are playing ball; do you ever feel competitive?
Ross: Growing up as the younger brother, I mean I was always trying to emulate a lot of things Henry did. This proved to be really difficult as Henry accomplished a lot of tremendous things early on in his life. I was a bit of a late bloomer and as I aged I learned to pave my own way and make my own mark wherever i went. As far as the competitive spirit between us now, it is most definitely present in anything we square off against each other in, but we’ve learned how to handle and manage it in a (somewhat) more mature way haha

Henry: I am always cheering for Ross. I always want him to succeed. We are both extremely competitive, but we also support each other completely. When we play against each other (in anything), I have that common older brother mentality of not letting Ross win. It doesn’t work out for me a lot of the time.

Together playing at the University of Calgary, how was that?
Henry: Playing together for 2 years was amazing! We won a Canada West Championship together and just had a lot of great times I will always remember. I consider Ross my best friend, so it’s pretty special that I had the opportunity to share some amazing times on and off the basketball court with him. I will never forget it.

Ross: To share an experience like that with your brother is something that I truly appreciate and don’t take for granted. I realized how unique it was and we both helped push each other to bring out our best for the team. Would have been great to take home U of C’s first national championship but there is some great memories nonetheless.

henry-bekkering-gasterra-

henry-bekkering-gasterra-

Henry, you missed a lot of games at the beginning of last season because of an injury, but you had a solid second half of the season statistically.
Was it ever tough to just keep going forward?
Every time you have an injury, there is the initial disappointment. I just tried to grind through my rehab and I wanted to make sure that when I came back, I was going to make an impact for the team. Everyone in Nijmegen treated me and supported me amazingly. I’m thankful for that.

Ross, you played in the FISU (University Games), representing Canada in 2007 and 2009. What was that like?
Truly was a surreal experience. Having the opportunity to play FISU in 2007 and go to Bangkok, Thailand, and then to replicate the experience again in 2009 in Belgrade, Serbia, I mean I felt very privileged. Its a huge honour for me to ever represent my country and to be considered among one of the elite for my age group was a great confidence boost. I believe it has helped me to grow as a player, and truly grasp the high level of basketball on the international level. From my experience at the two tournaments, it’s evident that Canada as a nation is right up there with the elite teams around the globe and we just need to take a few more steps to establish ourselves as one of the premier basketball countries.

Ross-Bekkering

Ross-Bekkering

Ross, you graduate from college and begin a new stage in your career as a pro, is your brother an example?
For sure. Henry has been a great example for me with regards to my first year of pro ball. All the difficulties that one has to deal with in playing basketball on the other side of the world for nine months, Henry did alongside handling a serous injury to his leg in which he missed the first half of the season. His resilience and ability to bounce back from something like that is something I can admire and definitely learn a few things from.

Henry, what were the reasons to choose GasTerra Flames?
Gasterra Flames is a great TEAM. They have amazing fans and playing for Groningen means you have an entire city behind you. Coach Marco’s coaching philosophy coincides with what I believe in as a player. I respect that. It’s a great opportunity for me to be part of an already special group and family. I just want to help in any way I can this year.

What does it mean to be Canadian?
Henry: Being Canadian is a blessing. We are from a beautiful, diverse, and free country that I’m definitely proud and lucky to be from.

Ross: Being Canadian to me is both an honour and a privilege. I am very proud to be a citizen of this great country, and will try to represent my country to the best of my abilities in my pro career over in Europe. I think Canadians as a whole have a very welcoming attitude towards people they meet throughout their life and I try to emulate that in my personal dealings as well. I also have a great deal of pride in my Dutch heritage and being a Dutch citizen as well. Dual Citizenship is the best of both worlds !

It seems unusual for a Canadian kid from a small community (Taber) to pick up basketball. What were your basketball influences growing up?
Ross: Our parents were always very supportive of anything we did. They encouraged us to try a lot of things, but I believe basketball ended up winning out because of the love that my older sisters had for the game. As a kid we would follow them around the gym all the time, and growing up to be 6’8”, wel it just seemed like a good fit !
My influences for basketball growing up were most definitely my brother and Michael Jordan. My brother first off because everything he did before me I thought was just incredible and he showed me what it meant to be dedicated and disciplined toward something you wanted to achieve. His work ethic shaped my style as a player. Michael Jordan…well what more can you say. The best player to ever play the game, head and shoulders above the rest (that’s right Kobe fans!), with a focus and mentality that is second to none. The G.O.A.T!
Henry: My entire family played basketball growing up and my Dad played in the Army during his university career. He was definitely my biggest influence. I also had countless teammates and coaches that helped my love for the game to grow.

Ross, you can play with a Dutch passport, did you have already had some offers?
I’ve signed with an agent, and we are in the process of securing a contract for next year. I know there has beens some interest and we are just waiting to decide what the best situation will be for me next year. Can’t wait !

Henry, what gives you the most satisfaction on the basketball court?
Working hard and seeing it pay off. Getting a big dunk or hitting a big shot is also pretty sweet!

Tell us about the influence of sport in your life.
Henry: Sport has provided me with so many unique opportunities and adventures in life. It’s also taught me a vast amount of lessons and life skills that i’ll be able to use when my playing career is over. I’m definitely grateful to be playing and I’m sure i’ll continue to learn a lot.
Ross: Sport is a large part of my identity and has had a huge part in shaping me as a person. It has taught me discipline, teamwork, self confidence, and perseverance among other character traits and all while allowing me to have fun and make some great friends doing it !
Both of you, thanks for doing this interview and wish you a great summer.

Robby Bostain, “Our goal to go out and dominate every game” – by Fred Roggen

Wederom eentje uit de ‘Oude Doos’:

I had a change to caught up with point guard Robby Bostain (194-G/F-84, college: Furman) of the GasTerra Flames. So, I had gone on this cold, foggy, rainy December day. It was kind of an unpleasant time to be in Groningen,
but a great atmosphere for an interview. It’s late in the afternoon by the time Robby Bostain shows up, it was more than a year ago we had our latest interview, I sat down with Robby and we had coffee, made some small talk, and recorded an interview. Robby is a heady, versatile lefthander, who can play on the one, two and three spot. His leadership has always guided his teams through the tough times and his trusty shooting has meant numerous wins.

Hey Robby. First of all, you made a big move to GasTerra Flames after two years in Zwolle. Now you’re playing for a team with much bigger expectations. Is there more pressure to win?
No, I dont think so.

From your perspective as a guard, how are things different this year from an Xs and Os perspective?
This year we have a lot of guys on the team who are really good offensive players, so being the point guard its my job to make sure everyone feels involved and is able to get a rhythm in the game. I try to make sure we have a good tempo on offense and that we are getting great looks at the basket everytime down the court. We have a few guys who can really create off the dribble and in the post and draw help defense, so its important to get those guys the ball in good situations. Then there are times during the game when its important for me to create more and look to score.
Last year, my role was to be a little more aggressive the whole game and really look to create shots for teammates and look to put the ball in the basket as well.

landstede_rotterdam01GasTerra Flames has made a big effort to put a competitive team together, as you are one of the new arrivals. How do you like your teammates and how much time will you need to give your maximum level?
I think we have a great group of guys. I really look forward to coming to the gym and competing against them everyday. We all get along real well off the court as well which is nice. Our goal is to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year. We learn things from every game and then we work on them in practice to try and reach that maximum level. So I cant really put a timetable on it, it just a matter of trying to improve everyday over the length of the season and then having all the work you have invested come together in the end.

That team chemistry – all the talking together on the court, the bench players involved – how did that chemistry come about?
I think it comes from a mutual respect we have for each other. Everyone on our team has played professionally before and alot of us were in this league last year and we got a chance to play against each other and see what makes each of us successful. Everybody has taken a different path to get here and has done something right to reach this level so we all respect each others ideas and comments. The bottom line for all of us is winning.

Robby, can you talk about how you feel about your game, how it has progressed in these past few months?
When I signed with Gasterra I really looked at it as a challenge and a great opportunity. I was really excited to move to a true point guard position and prove myself in that area at this level. I feel I have learned alot about controlling the tempo of the game and getting the ball where needs to go at the right time. I still have a lot to learn, but coach stays on me and gives me pointers here and there about always making great decisions with the ball and controlling tempo. Individually, I am always trying to improve on my fundamentals and stay ready.

You came to Europe very young to play under Coach Herman van den Belt. How has he helped you develop your game over the years?
I feel I was very fortunate to begin my career in Zwolle with coach Herman. I couldnt of asked for a better situation and people to be around to adjust to european basketball. Coach Herman really showed a lot of confidence in me and gave me a lot of freedom on the court to try things and learn from them. I became a much better player in my two years there. He really helped me with consistency by establishing roles for everyone and making everyone feel like they have ownership in the team.

Following your Pro career, one word that comes to mind is consistency. How do you maintain consistency in a sport full of ups and downs, good games and bad games?
I am a real routine oriented guy. So I try to build good habits and then work on those on a daily basis. Everybody has a few ups and down throughout their career. I just try to stay on a even emotional level and try not to get too high or too low, eventhough it can be hard at times.

  1. robby-bostain-gasterra-flames-photo-arnold-meijer-gasterra-flamesIt’s true that you always seem very calm under pressure. How do you handle stress in the critical moments?
    I feel its something I have learned through experience. I feel the more prepared you are the more relaxed you feel. So I try to prepare myself the best I can and then when certain moments come up you feel more confident going into the situation.

Your joining GasTerra Flames came with an implicit leadership role. How have you developed that part of your responsibility with the team?
I have always been a little bit of a quiter guy who led more by example than voice. But I think to be a really good player its important to be able to do both. So its something I want to get really good at. I think its important to be yourself, but I think its important to speak up at certain times and see what works and what doesnt. I am trying to be more vocal and I just try to keep doing it until I become better at it.

You and Matt Bauscher have become one of Hollands most dangerous combo’s outside. How did you get your rhythm playing together so quickly?
I had a lot of respect for Matt for what he did last year and I was really looking forward to playing with him this year. He is a really competitive guy that is fun to work with. We both enjoy setting up shots for the other guy and talking about what plays will get him a good look and how the defensive guy is playing him in certain situations. It really helps with our chemistry. He is all about winning and I enjoy playing with guys like that.

What does the possibility of winning a championship like the Dutch Title mean to you at this point in your career?
Thats what its all about to me. I was able to put up some nice statistical numbers last year, but championships are alot more memorable. Being able to go through a long season with a great group of guys and win the championship is the only mission for me.

The team had a surprising home loss against ZZ Leiden, after 7 wins in a row. Has this loss been, in a way, a wake-up call for you guys?
I dont think so. Our goal to go out and dominate every game no matter what happened the previous game. Leiden is a good team and they were better on that day.

There is something that never changes in Groningen and that is its incredible fan base. You have seen their support over the years and everyone who follows Dutch basketball knows how GasTerra Flames (Donar) is backed by some of the most loyal fans in sports. How could you explain the fan support.
Its been excellent. Everything has been first class. I always looked forward to playing in MartiniPlaza when I was in Zwolle. The fans are very loyal and passionate. They are also very knowledgable. They really know their basketball. Its been wonderful to play in front of them.

Finally, how far can GasTerra Flames go this season? Which are the goals for you, personally, and for your team?
I definately feel like we have the ability to go all the way. The goals for me are to become the best point guard I can. There are certain areas I want to work on to reach the highest level I possibly can. Team goals are similar. We want to become the best team we possibly can over the next 5 months and then come playoff time see where we are at.

Gerald Robinson, “Growing up in LA basketball is a way of life”

He may play in one of the smallest markets in the Europe, but you would need to have tunnel vision not to recognize Gerald Robinson (204-F-84, agency: Court Side, college: Tennessee-Martin), the subject of this week’s Eurobasket.com interview. So say hello to Dutch-American Gerald Robinson, the rebound leader from Landstede Zwolle.
Robinson is more of a globerunner than a globetrotter, with a career that has gone from the USA to Spain to the UK to Germany to Iceland and now to Holland. And he’s still only 27. The Ibasketball.nl-MVP for Week 2, Robinson is averaging 10.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.3 blocks in just 29 minutes a game.

As a little kid, what did you want to become?
Well my dad played professional basketball as well so I wanted to be just like my father, he put the ball in my crib.

IMG_5189 Who inspired you want to become a basketball player?
My dad did and watching all the great basketball players. Growing up in LA basketball is a way of life. Playing basketbal until it got dark outside. Watching the guys around me go to college and the NBA, they inspired me as well.

When you were growing up, did you idolize any basketball player?
I didnt idolize anybody…but after moving from Holland to Los Angeles my favorite player was Nick Van Exel he was the man back then and could really play and then came Kobe after. And I liked Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley because he played inside and out and rebounded.

Tell us about the path of your career? You’ve gone from Spain to the UK to Germany and Iceland in three seasons. What has each of those steps been like?
Yeah, I started in Spain where they were playing me out of position so I left there but it was a good learning experience for me. I learned a lot when I was there. After that I went to Plymouth in England which was also a good learning experience for me, a nice city and great fans. After that I went to Germany and last season I played in Iceland which was also a great experience for me. I really enjoyed my season there.

Why did you join Landstede Zwolle?
Talking with my agent Jan Lugtenburg he thought Zwolle would be a good fit for me. Other teams were interested but thought Zwolle would be good for me. Talked to the GM in May when I was still back in Florida and they wanted to fly me out to meet with them. So in early June I flew out here and met with the GM Adriaan and met with Coach Herman. I was impressed with what I saw, their vision, the facilities, etc.

robinsonLandstede Zwolle has begun the season extremely well, winning beyond expectations, and you are one of the main players for Herman van den Belt. How do you see the season so far?
We started of the season with a bad game against Leiden, we didnt play our best game but think we responded well in our last two games. We are a new and young team so we just getting used to each other and getting better everyday in practice.

Gerald, everyone wants to know: What is the Landstede’s secret? You guys have beaten two huge opponents. How?
We don’t really have a secret. We are just a defensive team and we like to play defense and stop people. We don’t care who scores on offense.

Personally you can be satisfied with your performance in the beginning of the season…
Im not really satisfied with my performances. I think it can be better. Had my worst game of my career against Leiden so was not happy with that but responded well the next games. Our offense is a different style for me and a new way of playing so its just going to take some getting used to. But love the challange.

What do you think about coach Herman van den Belt as a motivator and a coach?
I think Herman is a great guy who really loves basketball and he really knows basketball. He is good with X’s and O’s and does a great job of motivating us before and during the game.

Where did you get your playing style?
Well when I was younger I was short and played the point guard and guard postiton and when I got older I became tall and had to play inside. So I just put it together and play inside and out. I like being a all around player. I allways looked at the players that played inside out that came from LA and the NBA.

Let’s talk about rebounding, a subject you seem to like. What makes a great rebounder?
I just think who ever wants the ball more will get the ball. But I’ve allways enjoyed rebounding.

There are a lot of theories on rebounding. Do you have one?
My Junior College coach once told me that if he would give me a millions dollars to get the next rebound, he was sure I would do whatever to get that next rebound. So I just try to take that approach all the time and think about that … haha.

Whom do you consider the main candidates for the Dutch championship?
Well I have not seen the whole league play yet so I really cant give a good answer plus its still early in the season. But obviously last season champs Leiden and Groningen… they were in the finals.

How far can the young and inexperienced Landstede Zwolle make it?
We want to go as far as we can, we want to win every game we play but we are taking it game by game.

Regi Harris, “Hoops and Dope Don’t Mix Well”

“There was a time in my life when basketball was everything to me!” Regi Harris said.
Regi was named all-state his senior year of high school. He led the conference in scoring that year. There was no doubt in Regi’s mind he would play college basketball. But he had loftier goals.“All my life I wanted to be an NBA basketball player,” Regi said. “And no one from my high school had ever made it to the NBA and from the little rural area that I grew up in no one had ever made it to any pro sport. So I wanted to be the first.”

Regi Harris

Regi Harris

Regi’s parents abandoned him at birth, so his grandparents became the only parents he knew. They tried instilling in him Christian values.
“It was all about hard work,” Regi said. “They were about morals, principles and that’s something that I didn’t want any part of. It kept me from doing things that I wanted to do. I didn’t want to come home and have to do chores. I wanted to play basketball when I got home.”

Regi’s talent landed him a full scholarship at division one Sam Houston State. In his sophomore season he was named all-American. It seemed the NBA would be calling soon. But that call would never come.
Regi’s dreams came to an end, his junior year, on a playground in his hometown. He was playing a pick up game when he went up for a dunk, and his knee shattered. Doctors told him his basketball career was over.

“I became very depressed,” Regi said. “Disappointed, very disappointed – hurt, frustrated, crushed – because so many people had so much confidence in me. I started drowning my sorrows in drugs and I started doing more drugs and heavier drugs and because of that I became addicted.”
Regi’s drug of choice was crack.

“I started credit card fraud and forging checks and any little thing that I could do to get my drugs,” Regi said. “Of course if you do crime you do time.”
Regi was sentenced to 9 years in prison for theft and forgery. He tried to change.
“Ok, this is it,” Regi said. “And of course I’d pick up my Bible and do the jailhouse religion thing and I really meant it.”
Regi was released after only nine months on good behavior, but within a year he began using again.
“There’s a lot of pressure that’s out in society that’s not in jail,” Regi said. “You don’t have nothing but time in there to get into your word and do meditation and devotion – the stuff that you don’t discipline yourself to do when you get out because you got all these other distractions.”

“I want to understand drug addiction because it is a very miserable place from what I understand,” Regi said. “But it’s a place that so many people return to. Why is that?”
“You know I always say drugs escalate,” Regi said. “They don’t get better, they get worse and they get to a point to where they take over you and your body craves it. And now you just got to have them at all cost.”
Regi violated his probation and was sent back to prison. While there he got a phone call about his grandfather – the man he called “Dad.”

“I knew my grandfather was sick but I didn’t know to what extent,” Regi said. “And my aunt was on the phone and she just said, ‘Your dad passed away.’ It didn’t really sink in at first. A couple days later it really hit home that I would never see him again. I would never be able to tell him I’m sorry, shake his hand and say, ‘I appreciate your prayers and I appreciate all the concern you had for me.’”
Eleven months later Regi’s grandmother passed away. The only parents he’d ever known were gone while he was locked in prison.
“She went, and I thought the first one was tough but now they’re both gone,” Regi said.
Regi felt alone and desperate. Again he was released from prison, but he was still a prisoner.
“I felt more locked up when I was out doing drugs than I did when I was in prison,” Regi said.
So what happened?

“I surrendered,” Regi said. “All I know is, ‘God, I’m tired of living like this. God, I’m tired of disappointing people, God I’m tired of running around in the streets like a mad man doing stupid crimes and degrading myself and my family and most of all degrading God.”
“I told people who knew me, ‘I can do it, I can quit, see? I haven’t used for six months. I can do it. I can do it.’ And the more I said I, the less I said God. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Regi went to rehab, but he says God set him free from the desire of doing drugs. And he gave him a new desire – helping young people make good choices. Regi’s the coach of a youth basketball team.
“He gave me the desires of my heart,” Regi said. “It almost renders you speechless because when I’m on the court with the kids or we’re going to a game, I can just look at God and say thank you so much.”

Regi believes the faithfulness of his grandparents played a part in his life change.
“I used to see her pray all the time,” Regi said. “She would pray for hours. And the reason she was on her knees for so long is she was probably praying a lot of those prayers for me.”

“I don’t deserve to have what I have today,” Regi said. “If I got what I deserved I’d probably still be in prison or dead. But in spite of what I’ve done and despite of the person I was. His character loves me anyway. He loved me so much that he was willing to make a sacrifice for me while I was yet in sin he paid the ultimate price. And it’s awesome, it’s awesome.

And I make it personal. He did that for me.”