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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

Broken Records

Even though a fair-weather sports fan, I, like much of the nation was captivated by Caitlin Clark’s recent eclipse of the NCAA basketball scoring record of 3,667 points previously held by “Pistol” Pete Maravich.

While not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison (Maravich played before the adoption of the three-point line, shot clock, and was unable to play on the varsity team at Louisiana State University (LSU) as a freshman under the NCAA rules at the time).   Clark’s accomplishment has elevated her and NCAA Women’s Basketball to the pantheon of sports.

With Clark’s record still fresh in my mind, I happened to come across some information on Pete Maravich during my morning quiet time a few days later, in of all places, the Daily Strength for Men devotional that I read most mornings.  While I was certainly familiar with Maravich and was reminded of him daily by the media in the weeks leading up to Clark’s breaking his record, I didn’t know much about him.  

Upon further research I learned that “Pistol” Pete was born in Aliquippa, PA not far from my Pittsburgh home.  His love of the sport came from his father, Peter “Press” Maravich, who was named the head coach at Clemson University in 1956.  The elder Maravich also spent time at North Carolina State before accepting the head coaching position at LSU where he had the good fortune to coach his son “Pistol” Pete.

As I learned more about Pete Maravich, I was taken back by the trajectory his life took after his professional basketball career, which I’m sharing with you this week.  I hope it inspires you as it did me.

Perfect Peace for “Pistol”

From Daily Strength for Men

By Chris Bolinger

He was one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but the game gave him no peace.

From an early age, “Pistol” Pete Maravich always had a basketball in his hands, and his hard work made him one of the best ball-handlers of all time.  And man could he score!  Even though he played college ball before the introduction of the three-point shot, Maravich averaged 44.2 points per game for three years at Louisiana State University.  He had ten terrific seasons in the NBA, and in 1996 he was honored as one of the fifty greatest players in league history.

Off the court, Maravich’s life was a mess.  He struggled with alcoholism and depression and, when knee problems forced his retirement in 1980, he considered suicide.  After two years of searching for answers, Maravich knelt beside his bed and weeping, committed his life to Jesus Christ.  He gave up alcohol, his depression faded, and he pursued his newfound faith just as he had pursued basketball for most of his life.

Maravich started wildly popular basketball camps where he taught kids basketball and nutrition and told them his testimony.  He traveled the country to tell his story of transformation at churches, prisons, a Billy Graham Crusade, and even his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

In January 1988, Maravich died while playing in a pickup basketball game at a church gym.  An autopsy revealed that rather than having two coronary arteries, Maravich’s heart had only one.  Doctors said it was nothing short of a miracle that he had lived as long as he had, especially playing one of the most grueling sports.

A few months before he died, Maravich said, “I don’t have much time left, and the time that I have I’m giving to the Lord Jesus Christ.  I’m giving it to Him because that’s what I’m called to do.” Once “Pistol” Pete put his trust in God, God kept him in perfect peace.

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