Before Jimmer Fredette became nicknamed the "Lonely God" and could score 73 points in a single game in the Chinese Basketball Association, he was frustrated and struggling in the NBA. That's when a call from an apostle changed his perspective.
Before he’d started playing in the NBA, LDS Church Apostle M. Russell Ballard arranged to meet with Jimmer and his family. He told Jimmer he was proud of him as an ambassador for the LDS faith and that if Jimmer ever needed support, he should call him. One particularly tough day, Jimmer decided he’d do that. He got out of practice and noticed he had a voice mail. It was from Elder Ballard. “Hey Jimmer, just checking in,” the apostle said. “I had never reached out to him before that,” Jimmer recalls, “and the fact that he had already left me a voicemail, I felt like he was inspired to call me.”
When Jimmer called, Elder Ballard didn’t have much to say about basketball. Instead, he encouraged Jimmer to read The Book of Mormon every day.
“Basketball didn’t get any better, basketball stayed the same,” Whitney says. “But what changed is how Jimmer took it. He started to have a different perspective.”
Over the next few years Jimmer bounced around from one team to another: from the Kings to the Bulls to the Pelicans to the Knicks. One night in New Orleans playing for the Pelicans Jimmer came home in tears, his wife, Whitney recalls. “He just didn’t know what to do differently. He couldn’t figure out how to get on the floor.” The lowest point, though, was in San Antonio, his last NBA team.
“He finally felt like he was with a team that would fit his talents,” Whitney says. “And they cut him after two weeks. He felt like he didn’t even have a chance to prove himself.”