CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (BP)–Michael Bradley of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team will put on a Huskies uniform for a Saturday NCAA Final Four matchup against Kentucky. He’ll participate in the pregame warm-up drills and then take his spot on the bench, where he will stay for the rest of the game.
But he’ll still have a cottage full of kids in Chattanooga, Tenn., cheering for him.
“The kids will sit in front of the TV and say, ‘There he is!'” said Lynn Jordan, residential program director at the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home (TBCH). “Everybody’s watching him.”
Bradley, a freshman at UConn who redshirted this season, was a TBCH resident for about seven years before moving away to college last fall. Though his redshirt status makes him ineligible to compete this year, Bradley participates in all other team activities.
“He knew he had a lot to learn, and he feels like his basketball IQ is going up and he’s learning more and more every day,” Jordan said. “I think that’s one of the reasons he wanted to go to UConn, because he knew it would be a challenge.”
Jordan — who Bradley calls his “white mom” — said the 6-foot-10 forward/center has enjoyed his first year of college. College course work has been somewhat of an adjustment for him, and Jordan has stressed to him the importance of going to church, having devotions and taking care of himself spiritually.
“He does seem to be headed in the right direction and has set goals for himself,” she said. “He seems to have his head on pretty good. We keep praying for him every day.”
While a TBCH resident, Bradley attended Silverdale Baptist Church in Chattanooga. During his time at Tyner Academy, he led the school to a district championship, sub-state championship and regional championship in 2010 as a senior.
He was recruited by about 20 schools, including North Carolina, Harvard, Belmont, Georgia, Virginia Commonwealth and Drake, before he settled on UConn. In a Baptist and Reflector story last year, Bradley said he knew he would face temptations at the public university but was confident that the Lord would sustain his faith.
“Everything I’ve got is because of God,” Bradley said in the article. “I wouldn’t have the height I have without Him. I wouldn’t have the ability, the intellect, the courses I’ve taken. I just have to work hard and keep my mind straight to make good decisions. … It’s up to you to use what He gives you. Some people use it and some people don’t.”
Jordan and the rest of Bradley’s TBCH friends are happy for his success and look forward to what his future holds.
“I think he appreciates the fact that there are so many of us here who are still watching him and wanting him to be successful,” Jordan said. “I think he’s really enjoying himself. He’s living a dream.”
Tim Ellsworth is editor of Baptist Press Sports and director of news and media relations at Union University.