Derek Fisher: What Really Matters
By Rod Thomas with Shawn Brown
The 700 Club
For 13 seasons, NBA Guard Derek Fisher has been a fierce competitor on the basketball court. As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s a four-time NBA champion.
“You have to work hard at things,” Derek tells The 700 Club. “You have to be disciplined at things, in order to be good at them, to be great at them. So that goes for your professional career, your personal life, your relationships with people and your relationship with God.”
While attending the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Derek played basketball and centered his life on God.
“I made a contact with our strength and conditioning coach at the time. His name was Ken Coggins. He introduced me to FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and that’s where my individual relationship with God really, really took off.”
When his collegiate career ended, Derek continued to work hard, knowing the challenge of making an NBA roster would be great.
He explained, “I just totally put everything on my faith in God. If I concentrate on something and work hard at it, something good will come out of it.”
In the summer of 1996, future NBA greats Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Allen Iverson headlined one of the strongest drafts in NBA history. In the second round, Derek’s prayers were answered when he was drafted by the LA Lakers. He celebrated by praying with his parents, pastor and members of his congregation.
“We took that moment to just say thank you, because we all know that none of it really would have happened – none of it – without god’s blessings.”
Derek knew all about the temptations that face suddenly rich, young NBA players.
“I didn’t want to be a follower. I wasn’t going to do what other people were doing just because they were doing it if it really wasn’t the right thing to do.”
So before making the cross-country move to L.A., he went to church.
“After hearing the sermon, [I] just walked up in front of the church in front of everybody and rededicated my life to the Lord.”
Derek quickly established himself as one of the premier point guards in the league. He married and started a family with his wife, Candace. Before their daughter Tatem was even a year old, they got shocking news from the doctor.
“Tatem was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, which is a cancer of the eye at 10 months. When you talk about pain or hurt, it was just one of the hardest punches in the gut that I’ve ever received,” he shares. “I had no idea, whether or not she would be okay, whether or not we could find a cure for the cancer, or whether or not she would have to have her eye removed.”
But through prayer and medical treatment, Tatum was cured and is totally cancer-free
“At this point, there are no signs of the cancer returning or of us having to be fearful that something catastrophic could happen.”
Today Derek and Candace have four children. Even with a rigorous NBA schedule, he makes time to be there for his family.
“My parents didn’t have the opportunities that my wife and I have now, from a quality of life standpoint. But one thing that we did not ever lack was their presence.”
He continues, “They were there helping us with homework and making sure that we were doing the things that we needed to do and giving us curfews. That [is the] kind of love, discipline and structure that I try to bring into my home now as a husband and as a father.”
Derek discusses his faith and family in his new book, Character Driven.
“My character has always been important to me,” he says. “That was the one thing that I knew, no matter what, I had to hold that strong.”
As a husband, father, and athlete, Derek Fisher gives God the credit for his success.
“God blessed me with an ability to play this game very well. So then, in response to that, to show Him that I appreciate that blessing, I’m supposed to try to be the best at playing the game of basketball. I know all of it is because of Him. There’s no question about it. The source of my power and strength is God, and I know it, without a shadow of a doubt.”
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