Aaron Craft’s faith inspires on, off court
Published: Monday, November 14, 2011
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 22:06
For the Ohio State men's basketball point guard Aaron Craft, his commitments on the court and in his faith keep him focused, humble and involved.
"I choose to be a Christian, a student and then an athlete," Craft said.
Craft is involved in Athletes in Action, a Christian ministry for student athletes at OSU.
"Basically we meet for bible studies, and have weekly meetings we encourage our teammates to come to," he said. "An athlete gives their testimony on how God is working in their life."
Craft said priorities in his life have come a long way since last year. He said his faith helps keep him grounded and reassures him he is here for a reason bigger than sports.
"Something we say in AIA is we are not athletes who happen to be Christians, we are Christians that happen to be athletes," he said.
Eric Dates, a third-year in hospitality management and member of the OSU men's volleyball team, said Craft's leadership is "one of a kind."
"He is very charismatic when he gives his testimony at AIA and he is definitely strong in his faith," Dates said.
Growing up, Craft's family slept in on Sundays and it wasn't until his junior year of high school that he started attending church and bible study with his girlfriend. When he came to college, his journey in faith continued with the help of former OSU basketball player Jon Diebler.
Diebler introduced Craft, as a freshman, to AIA.
"This year I especially started learning and growing in my faith," Craft said. "Jon is like a big brother to me. He opened my eyes to the bigger picture."
Craft, now a sophomore, is respected by teammates and some fans as well.
"Aaron is a leader, what you see is what you get," said senior guard William Buford. "He is a great teammate and a great guy to be around."
Others outside the locker room, agree.
"Aaron is an outstanding team player and hustler," said Block "O" member Dustin Stinson. "He seems like a humble athlete, which is rare to find."
Craft said that "knowing we are working for eternal things not temporal" helps him reach out to teammates.
"It's so much better to wake up knowing we are here for a reason. It's not just a day to get through; it's a day full of new opportunities," Craft said.
Now that the season has arrived, bringing the team four freshmen, Craft said he feels like he has a leadership role that needs to be taken on confidently.
"Last year after we lost in the spring, coach (Thad Matta) said ‘I have all the confidence in the world in you. You can't let me have more confidence in you than yourself.' How awesome is it that he puts his trust in me," Craft said.
Craft said this helped him relax while being a leader this year. There are only two returning starters on this year's squad, Buford and sophomore forward Jared Sullinger. Dallas Lauderdale, David Lighty and Diebler all graduated last year.
"Will (Buford), Jared (Sullinger), Deshaun (Thomas) and myself are not trying to replace them — because you can't — but pick up the pieces of what they did," Craft said. "We learned from the greatest guys in the nation in leadership and what it takes to win basketball games and run a team."
Craft is a second-year in health professions exploration, whose favorite subjects include math and science.
"When I was a little tyke growing up I wanted to play professional football," Craft said. "Now I plan on eventually going to medical school."
Right now Craft said he hasn't thought too much about professional basketball, but if the opportunity presents itself, he's "going for it."
Craft said the only way to take advantage of what this "awesome" university has to offer is to get involved. Because of all OSU has given to him, Craft said he feels it's important to give back.
Craft just joined the Student Athlete Academic Board to represent the men's basketball team and sponsor teacher luncheons and he also attends Real Life events on Thursdays when he has the time, which is another Bible study.
Craft's favorite bible verse is Romans 5:8, which reads, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we are still sinners, Christ died for us."
He said this has made him realize that everything comes down to is God.
"That's the biggest thing that keeps me humble and keeps things in perspective for me," Craft said. "It's going on my basketball shoe this year."
OSU opened play against Wright State on Friday, in which they won 73-42. OSU takes on No. 7 ranked Florida Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the Schottenstein Center.