Clark Kellogg's Story of Faith
How a career-ending basketball injury led to his purpose
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Have you ever had your heart set on a plan for how your life will turn out? If you’re an athlete, maybe your plan is to be a professional athlete. If you’re a coach, you probably have a plan for how you’ll move up in your career. You devote all of your time, energy and heart into making your plan happen. But, what happens when it doesn’t?
As a college basketball player at The Ohio State University, Clark Kellogg’s plan for his life was to play in the NBA, and he was right on track. The Cleveland native was named Mr. Basketball USA 1979 and in 1982, was named the Big Ten MVP.
Kellogg’s talent was far ahead of his peers, and he entered the NBA draft after his junior year. He was a first-round draft pick of the Indiana Pacers. In 1983, after his first season in the NBA, Kellogg made the NBA All-Rookie team.
“I was on my way to experiencing everything I’d ever dreamed of. But five years later knee trouble ended my career,” Kellogg shared at an Athletes in Action event.
Kellogg faced a chronic knee injury, and underwent three surgeries. The injury didn’t just affect Kellogg physically. It forced him to turn inward and reflect on what he was living for.
“In 1985, while rehabilitating from a third knee surgery, I began thinking about my purpose in life. A local minister started conducting chapel services prior to games. Curious about the peace he had, I asked him to walk me and my wife through the Bible and teach us about God,” Kellogg said.
“My life completely changed. I began to realize that there was more to life than basketball. I was hurt at the time and had just undergone the second of what would be three knee surgeries. At that point, I didn’t know these injuries would ultimately end my career, but they had shaken my world enough to raise my antenna to who God was and what He might have to say about how I lived. Rosy, my wife, walked through this time with me, and we both sensed in our spirits that we needed to seek out answers to our questions about God.” Kellogg told FCA in 2016.
My cup overflows with gratitude, first to God, through Christ, the giver and sustainer of life
Kellogg’s basketball career sadly ended due to injury, and it would have been easy for him to be bitter or angry toward God or others. But Kellogg realized he could not control his own life, and was curious about the One who is in control. He wanted to know what God was like and what that meant for him. With the help of mentors, Kellogg found his purpose and joy in something greater than basketball.
“I elected and chose to surrender my heart and life to Christ in 1986, and it’s coming up on 36 years of that journey. I can enjoy, through life’s challenges and the ups and downs, the goodness and provision and guidance of God through His Word. It’s what I’ve sought to do, to walk according to the ways of God, according to the will of God, according to the Word of God, on a daily basis,” Kellogg said at this year’s Athletes in Action NBA All-Star Breakfast.
After realizing playing in the NBA wasn’t God’s plan for his life, Kellogg entered into a new role as a college basketball analyst. In 1990, he began working for ESPN and for the past 20 years, has worked for CBS. Kellogg carried his faith into his new role, sharing his faith with others through sports and serving with different sports ministries and nonprofit organizations.
“Coming to know Christ is something I’m always involved in, either directly or indirectly, and usually through the platform of sports,” Kellogg told “Unpackin’ It” in 2016.
“Athletes in Action and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are both sports ministries that my wife and I have supported on multiple levels — using the platform of sports to bring people into the saving knowledge of faith in Christ. Also, Big Brothers, Big Sisters is something we’ve tried to support either with our presence or resources — giving kids an opportunity to be their best,” Kellogg said.
Kellogg relies on his faith and reading the Bible for daily strength and wisdom for how to live his life. He turns to God, recognizing that he’s “flawed and sinful, but made new and redeemed through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ.”
“My cup overflows with gratitude, first to God, through Christ, the giver and sustainer of life. I hope that you can look at the Life Giver and see who He is, and how He can change your life,” said Kellogg.
Kellogg’s plan for his life didn’t work out the way he originally wanted, but through his pain, he realized that God’s plan is far better than his own and God’s plan cannot fail.