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NBA's Tyler Zeller Lives at the Center of the Action

The Boston Celtics have won 17 NBA championships, that’s more than any other team. After last night’s series win over the Wizards, they’re a step closer to another title. Center Tyler Zeller, is ready for the challenge. After all, he’s been surrounded by the game of basketball his entire life. Both of his parents played, his older brother Luke played, and his younger brother Cody is with the Charlotte Hornets. I got a chance to sit down with Tyler to talk about his humble beginning and how he’s using his platform to share his faith with the world.

“I actually wasn’t a fan of basketball kind of growing up. You know, it was something I really enjoyed doing with my dad and my brothers,” said Tyler.

He grew up in Indiana where basketball rules. Tyler, his dad and his brothers played for hours.

“I got to give my dad a lot of credit. He’d get home from work, he’d work a 12-hour day and come home and we’d be sitting there, Dad, you want to go to the gym? You want to go to the gym? I don't know how he did it but he’d take us to the gym for, you know, anywhere from an hour to 3 hours. I found a great love just being at the gym for the game of basketball and, you know, from there I really started to build,” said Tyler.

As much as his family loved the sport, his parents, Steven and Lorri taught Tyler and his brothers that the first priority in life isn’t Basketball, it’s faith in Christ-something he’s depended on throughout his career.

“I’ve been injured, I’ve had things not go my way. No matter how tough it gets, I’ve always got Him to kind of pick me back up and I know it’s part of His plan,” said Tyler.

Tyler was named Mr. Basketball his senior year, the state’s highest honor for high school players. Then after four years at North Carolina, he was picked up by Cleveland during the 2012 NBA draft. Two years later, he arrived in Boston where today, he’s battling it out underneath the boards as the Celtics try to bounce their way back to the NBA finals. As always Tyler is leaning on God to help him and his teammates perform at their best.

“Yeah, I mean, I always love Philippians 4:13. I know it can be referenced in many ways but, you know, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. You know, when you’re playing 82 games, sometimes you just need a little extra strength. But my big thing, when I go out I always ask God for help. I always ask God, you know, take over and just play for me. There’s nights I can’t do it, there’s night that I can do it, but I can’t do it as well as He can for me. And so I know if He’s got my back, and He’s playing for me, then it’s going to work out perfectly.”

Tyler is grateful that God has given him the privilege of playing professional basketball. But he believes no matter who you are or what you do, Jesus Christ should be a top priority.

“I think, first of all, should you commit your life to Jesus Christ, absolutely. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life, hands down. It gives me purpose in life, it gives me –really just reason for being, you know. Even basketball, you know, it’s fun and it’s enjoyable, but without Christ it’s—it doesn’t mean anything. You know, if it’s not something I can use for the betterment of His kingdom,” said Tyler.

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