The McAdoos: Hoop Dreams Deflated
By David Kithcart
The 700 Club
"You can remember running in from the locker room, out onto the court, and just people going crazy," Janet McAdoo says. "We used to light this place up. This is kinda where we met."
Her husband Ronnie recalls, "I would see her working out, and I had never seen a female play basketball the way I played. Janet was physical. She was throwing elbows, and I was like, 'Man, that woman knows how to play. I’m going to marry that woman.'
Ronnie McAdoo says his identity came from the sport he loved. "Growing up as a teenager in Mebane, North Carolina, I made all these plans from seeing NBA guys playing on TV," he says. "Seeing the nice cars, all the women that they had, I made up in my mind that I wanted all that stuff."
It looked like he was headed in the right direction to get it all too. Ronnie was the star of his high school basketball team. Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, saw Ronnie’s potential and gave him a full scholarship to play basketball for the ODU monarchs. And Ronnie didn’t disappoint. Four years later, he was drafted by the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. But after several weeks of training, Ronnie’s dream of being a NBA player ended. He was cut from the team before he even had a chance to play one game.
"I wanted to play in the NBA. I wanted the million-dollar contract," he confesses. "I wanted to go home and buy my mom this big house. I wanted all of this stuff. I wanted what the world was offering to me."
Ronnie and Janet married and started a family. They both signed to play basketball with European league teams. But, something was coming between them.
When asked was happened that made things get off kilter, Janet touches a basketball and says, "This, because he still had this. We had a child. We both had jobs. This was still first in his life. It caused a lot of dissention."
Ronnie concurs, "I was playing professional ball in Europe, and I couldn’t play anymore. I was angry at God; I was angry with Janet because this was my life."
"We would just come to these calamities, fights and arguments," Janet says, "and never got to the point where it got physical, but he wanted his way, I wanted my way."
"Janet had met with a lawyer, had the papers drawn up, and I refused to sign ‘em," Ronnie says.
But Janet had made up her mind. She was going to leave Ronnie.
She says, "It was when I was packing things up that I came across a tract that my older brother had sent me. [I] very quietly prayed through the tract. It showed the steps to salvation, and I came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ."
"I would come home and try to pick a fight with her, and she would not fight," Ronnie says. "She would just love on me. I didn’t want that. I wanted the fight."
She says, "When I would really listen to the voice of the Lord and the Holy Spirit saying, 'Don’t fight back; don’t do this. Instead of you trying to change Mac, why don’t you pray. Pray for him and let me change him.'”
"There was emptiness in my life," Ronnie says. "I couldn’t figure out why, if I had all this stuff. My definition of happiness meant having a lot of material possessions, nice homes but I wasn’t happy."
Ronnie decided that the answer to his unhappiness was in church and that he and Janet should go together. A day later, a man from the church came to the house to visit Ronnie. When the man told him about salvation through Jesus Christ, Ronnie didn’t understand why he needed it.
"What is this guy telling me? I’m a sinner? I’m a good person. My good outweighs my bad and that is enough to get into heaven," Ronnie says.
Ronnie was still unhappy. He figured that a trip back home to a game at his old high school would be just the ego boost he needed.
"So, I walk in the gym. Nobody stops. They don’t stop playing ball. Nobody says, 'Hey, that’s Ronnie McAdoo.' Nothing happens."
During the drive back to Virginia, Ronnie’s thoughts turned to Jesus Christ.
"I could not stop thinking of the love of Jesus Christ," Ronnie says. "That He loved me so much that He went on the cross and that He died for this sinner."
Once they were back home, Ronnie knew what he had to do.
"I kneeled before my fireplace and said, 'Lord Jesus, I believe in You. I’m a sinner. I need You to come into my heart and change my life. I’m Yours. You tell me what to do and where to go. I surrender tonight.' Basketball was my identity. I had to come clean with God and say, 'Here I am, God. I don’t want to pretend anymore.'”
Janet recalls, "I think the biggest change is from being served, wanting to be served, wanting to be adored, and having his needs met to being a servant. You can’t fake that."
Ronnie agrees, "It’s just like the Bible says, 'Love your wife as Christ loves the church.' God taught me how to love my wife. I always thought in a marriage: the wife gives 50 percent, the husband gives 50 percent -- doesn’t work that way. I give 100 percent; she gives 100 percent."
Ronnie is now serving others full time as the sports director for urban discovery ministries in Norfolk, Virginia.
"I go around to middle schools, high schools, and rec centers and talk with athletes and coaches about the love of Jesus Christ," he says. "Just building relationships—not just with kids but with their parents as well. I just thank the Lord Jesus for the opportunity He’s given me to be His ambassador."
"To be an ambassador outside of the house also means to be an ambassador inside," Janet adds. "We’ve had our struggles with that—both of us have. It is a matter of saying, 'What can I do for you before I do what I want to do for myself?'”
Ronnie says, "Jesus Christ is king of Ronnie McAdoo’s life. I am what I am today only by the grace of God."
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