The Dream That Led a 3-Time Olympic Medalist to Join the Church

Standing at an incredible 6 feet 11 inches, Krešimir Ćosić was made for basketball. Born in Zadar, Yugoslavia (now Croatia), on November 26, 1948, Ćosić began playing on his national team at 16 and won two world championships and three European championships during his lifetime. He also competed in four Games, earning three Olympic medals.

After helping Yugoslavia secure a silver medal during his first Olympic appearance in 1968, Ćosić was persuaded, with the help of BYU’s head basketball coach, Stan Watts, to attend Brigham Young University.

When he first arrived on BYU’s campus, rimmed with the jagged, imperial Wasatch Mountains, Ćosić experienced a strange case of déjà vu. Having seen those exact mountains in his dreams years earlier, Ćosić felt he was meant to come to Provo.

Later, when his friends explained that dreams can have profound spiritual meaning, Ćosić wanted to know more.

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That desire led Ćosić to the office of professor Hugh Nibley. Though separated by age, nationality, and 16 inches (Nibley was only 5 feet 7 inches), the two quickly found a strong brotherhood in their faith and desire for gospel learning.

“There are a hundred reasons why I should not join the Church,” Ćosić told Nibley, “and only one reason why I should—because it is true.”

Krešimir Ćosić was baptized by Nibley in November 1971. Because of his height, he used a specially-sewn, extra-long baptismal outfit, and because of his high public profile and unusual political situation, Ćosić was baptized in the basement of the tabernacle on Temple Square.

After his conversion, Ćosić went on to play in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. In the Montreal 1976 Games, he helped his team bring home a silver medal. During his final Olympic appearance, in the Moscow 1980 Games, his team at last brought home a gold medal.

Despite the fame and glory brought on by his meteoric career, Ćosić still remained faithful to the beliefs he learned at BYU. At a time when priesthood leaders were not allowed to preach in Yugoslavia, 23-year-old Ćosić became the presiding priesthood holder in his country and helped lay the foundation for the gospel.

Under direction from the Church, he organized the first three branches and performed the first baptisms in Yugoslavia, translated for Thomas S. Monson when he opened Croatia for the preaching of the gospel in 1985, and assisted in the translation of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and the temple endowment into Croatian.

At Ćosić's funeral, a prominent Catholic priest, Fra Bonaventura Duda, shared this tribute:

“Our Kreso, ever since I have known him, was a faithful believer, but he did not (merely) speak of it, he performed his faith. . . . He did not only believe in this religion, he truly believed in a personal connection with God. He wholeheartedly tried to practice his faith in real life.”

Lead image from http://forum.net.hr. Other image from Wikimedia Commons.
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