Michael Redd is an NBA superstar, Olympic gold medalist and one of the highest-paid athletes in sports. And before one night about seven years ago, he said he was drinking too much, craving sex and felt unworthy of living.
“I used to read the story about Jesus getting whipped and think that it was me holding the whip,” Redd shouted Oct. 31 during his “Night of Hope” event at the Ohio Union. “Every time I watched pornography, every time I drank, every time I lusted, it was me giving him another lashing. I put him on that cross.”
Redd, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, told students that he knew what he was doing was wrong, and it made him think he shouldn’t be alive because his heart wasn’t in the right place.
Redd, a former Ohio State basketball player and NBA All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks, held the OSU event in collaboration with Athletes in Action, a national Christian group that promotes its ministry through athletes and has a chapter at OSU.
In 2003, in his hotel room before a game against the Atlanta Hawks, Redd said God spoke to him.
“I heard a voice say, ‘Get up and pray,'” Redd said. “I’ve never felt anything like what I felt that night. My life has never been the same since. My heart was changed.”
Redd stopped going to clubs with the likes of Jay-Z and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, saying his heart didn’t want to do those things anymore.
“I was no good at sin. I was also a horrible dancer. People would make fun of me because I didn’t even know how to drink the right way,” Redd said. “Girls would ask at the club, ‘Are you having fun?’ and I’d say no, and want to go home.”
An Athletes in Action official said Redd wanted to come to OSU to help students going through what he felt.
“Michael knows what it’s like to be an Ohio State student because he was one,” said former president of Athletes in Action Taylor Candella. “He knows what goes on and he knows the temptations of college life, especially here in Columbus, so he just wanted to come and talk to students about the things that he went through and to relate to them.”
Jon Diebler, starting shooting guard for the OSU basketball team and a member of OSU’s chapter of Athletes in Action, said the group is comprised of Christian OSU student-athletes who get together three times a week to talk about the Bible and their ministry.
In his speech, Redd talked about how he grew up in a religious household, but when he came to OSU, he felt that he was finally free to drink and have sex.
“I had a false sense of what freedom really was,” Redd said.
Redd, whom Sports Illustrated ranked the 45th highest-earning athlete in 2010, said he had problems with lust and pornography.
After his talk, Redd and other members of Athletes in Action split the students into groups of about a dozen people to ask them about their faith.
“I was really just trying to get people to open up about their faith,” Diebler said. “I know sometimes it can be frightening if you are a believer to share about your faith or your relationship with Christ, but I think breaking it down into small groups like we did was very encouraging.”
Redd said if even one student at the event got the point, it was all worth it.
“I pray that it had a huge impact. Hopefully lives were changed and transformed,” Redd said. “I saw a lot of people that seemed broken that really took in what I had to say.”