Former OSU Basketball Players Share Journey With Faith

Dallas Lauderdale III (left) and Aaron Craft (right) spoke to a crowd on Thursday at the James F. Dicke Auditorium at New Bremen High School about their relationship with God and how that impacted their time as members of Ohio State University basketball team.
Staff Writer

On Thursday evening, local residents gathered at the New Bremen High School Auditorium to hear from two former Ohio State University basketball players — Dallas Lauderdale III and Aaron Craft — about their journey as athletes and as followers of Jesus Christ. 

Having met while they were Buckeyes, the two men came together because of their love of the game and their love for God. Coming from different backgrounds — Craft a new believer starting in high school and Lauderdale raised in a religious household — the two men looked to inspire the room and show that they can follow God no matter what other you take in life. And by following God, people will be able to be successful in their personal lives and in every aspect of their lives. 

The two men were asked questions by panel hosts about how they have made the journey to follow fully in Christ.

What has your journey to follow Christ been like? 

“If you had asked me when I was in seventh of eighth grade, ‘how many thoughts I had had about God?’ or asked me, ‘who God was?’ I couldn’t have given you an answer,” Craft said. “I honestly have no clue what I would’ve said. I probably would’ve made something up to try and sound smart but it would’ve been completely false because I never thought about God.”

Growing up, Craft had no connection with faith, and attributes his new found connection with God to his high school friend and his then-girlfriend, now wife. Both invited him to their churches and bible studies, which at first he said he avoided. But after some time, he finally agreed and that was the start of his journey to following God. 

At the time, he was recognizing that there was a hole in his life, a hole he though sports could fill but realized it wasn’t doing the job. 

“Going into my senior year I knew I was going to play basketball in college so I really started thinking about what role sports played in my life,” he said. “If these sports in high school weren’t giving me the joy that I was hoping for, why would college basketball be any different?”

It was mentors he had that made him realize he what he was chasing was not the satisfaction he got from earning awards, good grades or any sports titles. It was a person that was missing, and sports would never be able to fill that. But a relationship with God did. 

For Lauderdale, his journey to a relationship with God was the polar opposite of Crafts. Lauderdale grew up in the church with his great-grandfather, grandfather and father being pastors in the church. He attended church every week, along with bible study and everything else because that was what he was told to do. 

It wasn’t until Dec. 2012 that he realized his relationship with God wasn’t real because he had been doing everything because he thought that was what he was supposed to do, not because he wanted to. 

“I was just playing the game and I realized the game of eternity is not a game you want to play,” he said. “The game of where you’re going to spend eternity is not a game to play.”

He added that he had hit rock bottom with his faith, but realized God was rock bottom and from there he was able to grow with Him. 

What is the difference between your life with God and your life without Him? 

Craft compared his life with and without God to advice he followed from coaches when playing sports. He said they always encouraged players to not play too high or too low because that can hurt the outcome of the game and the season. Instead, they encouraged players to be consistent to ensure the best outcome possible. 

“He decreases the amplitude of those highs and lows,” Craft said. “Because He’s who gives me purpose, He’s the reason to live.”

God gives him a steady line to live on that Craft can count on. He knows that God will be consistent also because He won’t turn his back on Craft or anyone else. 

For Lauderdale, God offers hope and faith, even in the lowest parts of life. He referenced Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His purpose.”

“That’s a promise to us,” Lauderdale explained. “As a child of God, it says that, ‘all things work together for our good.’ That means every single thing that we’re going through, that we’re going to go through and have gone through, somehow, someway God is going to work it together for our good.”

For the full story, read Friday's print edition of The Evening Leader.