We look at which NBA players – past and present – are Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of the Christian-based religious movement.
The NBA truly is a global game, and includes races, backgrounds, and nationalities from around the world. It is also home to many religions including former NBA players who are Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are members of a Christian-based religious movement, and there are believed to be almost 8.7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in 240 countries around the globe, including 1.3 million in the U.S.
According to the BBC, the denomination was founded in the USA towards the end of the 19th century, under the leadership of Charles Taze Russell. Members of the movement are probably best known for their door-to-door evangelical work.
Which NBA players are Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Danny Granger played ten seasons in the NBA, most notably for the Indiana Pacers. In 2009 he was voted an All-Star was was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
According to NBA.com, Danny was raised in a religious household by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Speaking about his upbringing he said: “I was taught respect, we weren’t allowed to curse as kids, we were brought up in a really respectful way and that really matters.
“I think that helped me coming into my own as I evolved into a man. These days a lot of kids are brought up in the wrong way and luckily my family brought me up the right way.”
Darren Collison is another former Pacer who is a Jehovah’s Witness. Collison was the 21st overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, and played for the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and Los Angeles Lakers.
On June 28, 2019, Collison announced his retirement from the NBA, citing religious reasons.
In an interview with The Undefeated and ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, Collison said: “While I still love basketball, I know there is something more important, which is my family and my faith. “I am one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and my faith means everything to me.
“I receive so much joy from volunteering to help others and participate in a worldwide ministry. The joy I feel is unmatched.”
Dewyane Dedmon, nicknamed “The Mechanic”, has played for a number of NBA teams, and is currently with the Miami Heat.
However, Dedmon did not play high school basketball until his senior year due to his mother Gail’s religious objections. Gail was a member of Jehovah’s Witness and raised Dewayne and his two sisters under the same faith.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard wrote in 2011 that under the religion, “allegiance to anyone or anything but Jehovah is forbidden.” However, playing on a sports team was not “expressly forbidden.”
At the age of 18 Dewayne told his mother he was going to play on the basketball team.
“At first, she definitely wasn’t a fan,” Dedmon told Business Insider. “But like I said, I was 18, so I was an adult, so I could make my own decisions.
“It definitely took some time for her to come around to the fact that I was playing basketball.”
It is unclear whether Dewyane is still a Jehovah’s Witness or has left the denomination altogether.
Dave Meyers was a former player for the Milwaukee Bucks. He also played as a forward for the UCLA Bruins in college, where he won two national championships.
He was drafted in the first round of the 1975 NBA draft with the second overall pick. Meyers played four years professionally with the Bucks.
In 1980, Meyers made a surprise announcement that he was retiring from basketball to spend more time with his family. He also wished to devote more time to his Jehovah’s Witness faith. He died of cancer on October 9, 2015, at the age of 62.