Many a successful person has lived out the warning of Mark 8:36 without knowing there’s a chapter and verse that predicts his or her troubles. Jeremy Lin at least realized the disconnect within a year.
The Houston Rockets star, who rose to fame after an incredible run in 2011 with the New York Knicks, spoke about his sudden ascent and his struggles with his new identity at a youth conference in Taiwan recently. While Lin didn’t use the verse that warns about someone “gaining the world but losing his soul,” it was in that vein that he shared his faith-based advice about what he’s dealt with since his life suddenly changed.
“I became obsessed with becoming a great basketball player … trying to be Linsanity, being this phenomenon that took the NBA by storm,” he told the crowd of more than 20,000 at the conference, according to the Gospel Herald. “The coaches were losing faith in me, basketball fans were making fun of me. … I was supposed to save Houston basketball.”
While few people expected Lin to keep up the eye-popping numbers he had posted in New York, he struggled to even be the point guard and cornerstone player the Rockets had planned on when they gave him a three-year, $25 million contract going into 2012. That, coupled with other challenges Lin experienced when he finally achieved stability — and fame and fortune — after months of bouncing around between teams and trying to make it in the NBA, left Lin in crisis, he said.
“I was supposed to be joyful and free, but what I experienced was the opposite,” he said. “I had no joy, and I felt no freedom. … I had to get back to listening to God’s voice. I had to get back to being who God made me to be.”
Lin said that, rather than letting his job or the reputation others had given him define who he was, he wanted to get back to what he knew mattered, and to prioritize his life the way he had before the opportunities of Linsanity.
“The one thing I learned was how empty fame and worldly success really are. … The desire for success never stopped,” he said. “If the voice that you listen to the most isn’t God’s voice, then eventually you will experience that emptiness, confusion and misery that I felt when I listened to the voice of Linsanity.”
Lin charged the young people at the conference to assess their priorities, too, and to think about what they want in life. He shared his faith and the Gospel message.
Lin’s 2012-2013 season with Houston wasn’t a complete loss. He averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 assists a game as the Rockets squeaked into the playoffs, where they lost to Oklahoma City in the first round. In the offseason, however, the Rockets considered going in a new direction. They brought in Dwight Howard and were reportedly ready to trade Lin if needed to make Howard the new focal point of the franchise.
If Lin follows through on what he was saying at the conference, though, it sounds like the Rockets may have a less encumbered point guard on their hands next year — and one who doesn’t mind at all if someone else takes the spotlight.
Photo via Facebook/Jeremy Lin Fans HQ