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All-star Clemson guard here ‘to honor God’

ORIGINALLY POSTED Saturday, April 5, 2008.

SAN ANTONTO (BP)–Clemson shooting guard Cliff Hammond’s team isn’t in the Final Four, but he is among the college senior players in the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-Star game in conjunction with the NCAA championship festivities in San Antonio.

Although wearing an all-star jersey, Hammond said the only thing special about him is his relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Do everything you do to honor Christ,” Hammond said. “I’m not here to please man, I’m here to honor God.” Hammond said.

Hammond helped lead Clemson to the NCAA tournament this year for the first time in a decade, helping them overcome the disappointments of his sophomore and junior years when the Tigers got off to a hot start only to fade at the end of the season. The 6-3 Hammond put his senior leadership and God-given talent to work, starting every game but one as Clemson made a run to the ACC tournament finals and to an NCAA berth.

“You always learn something from trials and tribulations because we are always going to have those in our lives,” Hammond told Baptist Press. “God has showed me not to have an attitude, but to honor Him in all that I do.”

As a senior leader of the Clemson team, Hammond was given the chance to address his fellow players and coaches before the year started to help set a theme for the season.

“I asked if anybody had any problems with me talking about my faith, then I was able to share what was important in my life,” Hammond said.

After the meeting, he said two freshmen members of the Clemson team came up to him wanting to know more about having Christ as part of their life.

“That’s when you feel like you’re headed in the right direction,” Hammond said. “[God] has given me this light with my athletic ability, now it’s my time turn to let that light shine.”

Hammond grew up in tiny Whigham, Ga., where his parents were members of the St. Stephens Missionary Baptist Church.

“I had a faith background, but I had to have a faith for myself,” Hammond said. “I accepted the Lord into my life as a junior in high school and God has been using me and this talent to honor Him.”

Last summer, Hammond traveled to Taiwan as part of the Athletes in Action ministry team, sharing his faith and showcasing his hoops skills.

“We wanted to win every game, but we wanted to share our faith in Christ more,” Hammond said.

Hammond said the next faith step in his life and the reason he was in San Antonio for the Final Four was the possibility of being drafted in the NBA this summer.

“It’s a fresh approach in my life and I’m learning how God leads me. I don’t know what God has for me, but He has a plan and I want to honor Him with it,” Hammond said.

Washington State senior forward Robbie Cowgill, another player in the all-star game, said the influence of his godly coach, Tony Bennett, made an impact on his life and his testimony this year.

“To be around a coach who builds his system on godly principles was really refreshing. God may be leading me into full-time ministry, but I want to follow Him wherever I go,” Cowgill said.
Art Stricklin is a sports correspondent for Baptist Press and director of ministry relations for Marketplace Ministries in Dallas.

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