For 24-year-old Iowan Harrison Barnes, relationships have always been key to his success as an athlete. Throughout high school, college at the University of North Carolina, and his championship career as an NBA player, he has greatly valued his relationships with family, friends, coaches, and teammates. Now he is representing the USA in the Olympics.
One of the most significant lessons the 6’8” forward has learned over the years is that success “takes a lot of people who are pouring into you. No one gets [to the Olympics] by themselves.” His relationships with others are the foundation of his victories, as well as the catalysts that help him grow in his faith.
“They [Harrison’s parents and coaches] really helped me be grounded. They helped me get my head right when I was starting to drift.” Growing up, his mother was diligent to help him stay focused on his goals and aware of the intricacies of life, observant of which paths lead where.
His coaches have also held him to a strict standard, helping him use his gifts to excel.
Harrison feels that life is a journey and maturity is a process. “It’s all the daily things that allow you to mature and be a man of God.” Even the little things that make up his day-to-day life have a huge impact on who he is. His former Golden State Warriors teammates definitely helped him continue to become the man he wants to be, exploring the Bible and talking about life together.
Also thankful for USA assistant coach Monty Williams, Harrison says, “He can talk to you about pretty much everything.” Monty, who is like a spiritual mentor to Harrison, has been an NBA player himself, as well as gone through hardships like a chronic knee injury that forced him into retirement and his wife being killed in a car accident earlier this year.
Still, Harrison’s most important relationship is his personal relationship with God. Harrison lives by the verse Acts 4:12, which says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
The verse is referring to Jesus Christ. Harrison believes that following Christ is the foundation of his growth and maturity. His goal at the Olympics is “to be a light to others,” glorifying God in all he does. Becoming a gold-winning Olympian would simply be a cherry on top.
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