ONE TOUGH COOKIE
Read 2 Corinthians 11:21b-29.
“Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (v. 28).
Blood all over the place, a gory mess. And it’s one of Coach Roy Williams’ favorite photos.
Right next to pictures of his wife and children, Williams kept a shot that was right out of the most repulsive slasher flick, “a framed 8-by-10 of a young man drenched in his own blood.” The frightful sight was Tyler Hansbrough, one of the greatest basketball players in North Carolina history, and Williams kept the photo to remind him of what Sports Illustrated called “the epic toughness of college basketball’s fiercest gladiator.”
The picture was snapped a half hour after a Duke player broke Hansbrough’s nose with a flagrant foul during the 2006-07 season. “He has two cotton swabs up his nose and blood all over his arms and jersey, and he says, ‘How do I look, Coach?’” said Williams, who still smiles at the memory. Hansbrough, in fact, sought out a photographer to have the picture taken. “I was like, ‘Get a picture of this so people will believe how bloody it really was,’” he said. “It was gushing. It was crazy.”
Hansbrough completed his All-American Carolina basketball career in 2009. He set a number of conference records, including most career points. Among others, he set school career records for most points and most rebounds. He is the only Tar Heel in history to be named unanimous first-team All-ACC all four seasons.
Sports Illustrated declared, “No player in memory has absorbed, initiated and (let’s be honest) enjoyed more bumper-car moments in the lane” than Hansbrough. Williams’ photo illustrates the truth of that statement as does an NCAA record Hansbrough set: most free throws made in a career.
You don’t have to be a legendary UNC basketball player like Tyler Hansbrough to be tough. In America today, toughness isn’t restricted to physical accomplishments and brute strength. Going to work every morning even when you feel bad, sticking by your rules for your children in a society that ridicules parental authority, making hard decisions about your aging parents’ care often over their objections — you’ve got to be tough every day just to live honorably, decently, and justly.
Living faithfully requires toughness, too, though in America chances are you won’t be imprisoned, stoned, or flogged this week for your faith as Paul was. Still, contemporary society exerts subtle, psychological, daily pressures on you to turn your back on your faith and your values. Popular culture promotes promiscuity, atheism, and gutter language; your children’s schools have kicked God out; the corporate culture advocates amorality before the shrine of the almighty dollar.
You have to hang tough to keep the faith.
Winning isn’t imperative, but getting tougher in the fourth quarter is.
– Bear Bryant
Life demands more than mere physical toughness; you must be spiritually tough too.