Don’t stress about what could/should happen because what did happen prepared you for what’s going to happen.
If you happen to glance at Rodney Hood while he’s on the Utah Jazz team charter or bus or perhaps as he’s sitting in his locker before Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday night, it’s likely you’ll see the shooting guard’s nose buried deep in the pages of a book.
A scary page-turner?
A thrilling adventure, epic sci-fi read or young adult novel?
A steamy publication, as one teammate jokingly guessed?
Not even close.
Hood’s literary focus is on a much higher spiritual and thought plane than that.
Nothing grows in your comfortable places. If God can break you up, He can plant something in your life.
After regularly reading the Holy Bible last year, Hood is currently ingesting a self-help book written by popular evangelical Christian pastor and author Rick Warren titled: Daily Inspiration for The Purpose Driven Life.
Hood hauls the brown-covered book with him while traveling, has been spotted carrying it with him while entering the arena this postseason and keeps it in his locker for easy access.
The motivational messages, which include 1,000 scriptural passages and reflections by Warren, soothe the soul of this young player and newish dad. Hood is soaking up the inspiration. He’s trying to find his way in life as much as he’s trying to find a way to contribute to the Jazz’s success on the court during the franchise’s first postseason in five years.
This particular book was a Christmas gift from his sister-in-law, who, by the way, needn’t worry about giving him the gift receipt in case of a possible return. It’s getting some great use.
“It’s something that really keeps me level-headed,” Hood said. “It gives me purpose, keeps me grounded, not about basketball or anything like that.”
The first step in getting where you want to be is deciding you’re not going to stay where you are.
Hood grew up smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt in Meridian, Mississippi. Though he says he’s “not a religious guy,” the affable young man is a believer. He humbly and eagerly seeks spiritual comfort, guidance and peace.
“I feel like I’m a spiritual guy. I believe in God. I believe in a higher power,” Hood said, unabashedly, from his locker and within earshot of teammates and reporters after a second-round game against Golden State at Oracle Arena. “This (reading) is something that keeps me calm, keeps me level-headed when things go different ways in my life.”
Basketball is his main focus right now in the playoffs, of course, but Hood’s life doesn’t just include hoops. That’s especially true since he and his wife, former Duke basketball standout Richa Jackson, welcomed Rodney Jr. into the world on Jan. 3, 2016.
Hood, now near the end of his third NBA season, became more focused on self-improvement and spiritual enrichment after his rookie year with the Jazz (when his college sweetheart was pregnant).
Just as he loved reading the Good Word, he’s enjoying learning life lessons from Warren’s book.
“I read it before the games. I read it in my off time. It gives me something to do rather than just sit around all day,” Hood said. “This is kind of the condensed version of the Bible, different lessons you can learn. It’s been good.”
God is watching over you tonight. Stop fighting this battle alone, give it to God and go to bed.
Hood also subscribes to the Sprinkle of Jesus app, which sends spiritual-based motivational text messages (such as the italicized thoughts sprinkled throughout this article) to his phone every day.
Hood, who’s had an up and down playoff experience, wants to be a better basketball player.
The 24-year-old, who’s spent countless hours volunteering his time mentoring youth in Mississippi and Utah, wants to be a better man.
He wants to be a better dad for his young son.
“It teaches you about fatherhood, how to be a better person, all those types of things,” Hood said of the uplifting texts. “It’s been good for me.”
I asked you to live by faith, not frustration. — God
Hood has dealt with nerves before games, as all players do. Throughout his basketball career, he’s also had to deal with occasional game-day gastrointestinal issues (a.k.a. a “nervous stomach,” which caused him to come off the bench a couple of times at Duke and has affected him sporadically in Utah).
When Hood was playing for the Blue Devils, his maternal grandma suggested that he read one specific soul-soothing passage from the Bible to settle him down and to allow him to perform to the best of his God-given and Mike Krzyzewski-aided talent.
God’s will is found in God’s word. Stop looking for a sign and start looking for a verse!
“I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” Hood said, beginning to recite part of the scripture to explain which passage he meant.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
“I say it to myself before I walk out before the game,” Hood said. “I got it memorized in my head.”
The calming words continue to swirl through his heart and soul during the national anthem just ahead of tipoff.
“Just to keep me calm, to keep me relaxed,” Hood said. “Really, since I was at Duke. My grandma gave me that scripture to read. It gave me something to just calm me down because I was real anxious and stuff like that.”
Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or an event to control your emotions.
Hood’s first experience in the NBA playoffs has been frustrating at times and rewarding at others. He’s averaging 10.3 points off the bench and is shooting only 27.3 percent from 3-point range — 0-for-9 from beyond the arc in two losses to the Warriors — after dealing with knee issues at the end of the regular season. Yet, Hood was an integral part of Jazz wins in Games 3 and 4 of their grueling and exciting 4-3 first-round series victory over the Clippers.
The shooting guard is embracing an experience he feels fortunate to have.
“Just natural progression,” Hood said. “Just going through a series like last series, going through something like this is only going to make you better.”
The highs with the lows.
The wins with the losses.
The fear with the faith.
The nerves with the calm.
“Not a lot of young guys in the league are being able to play valuable minutes for a really good team,” Hood said. “I’m trying to take advantage of it as much as I can, try to get as healthy as I can and just go through it.”
Don’t compare your piece to someone else’s puzzle.
One thing Hood knows as he goes along this path: He’s not alone.
Sometimes God takes you on a journey you didn’t know you needed to bring you everything you ever wanted.
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