Mark and Lee Anne Pope- “All In” On and Off the Basketball Court
There have been two constants in the lives of Mark and Lee Anne Pope—change and the gospel of Jesus Christ. But they are all about leaving it all on the court and not holding anything back, regardless of what might change. In their family, in their communities, on their teams, and in the Church, Mark and Lee Anne Pope choose to be “All In.”
3:32-The daughter and wife of basketball coaches
6:25-Life in the NBA
10:20-Working for David Letterman
16:16-A love story
26:21-A foundation of gospel living
31:22-The vulnerability of being "All In"
37:30- Peter, the apostle
39:22-What does it mean to be "All In"
Morgan Jones: Speaking at BYU Women's Conference less than a month after her husband was introduced as the new BYU men's basketball coach, Lee Anne Pope said, "Being all in can be so hard and it can hurt sometimes. It hurts when you give your whole heart to something and it doesn't go the way you thought. It hurts when you give your whole heart to something or someone and it ends—a mission, a career, a marriage, the life of a loved one. Being all in makes us vulnerable. It's a lot easier to hold back a little and not give everything and protect yourself from the pain. But when you look back on your life, the greatest moments will be the moments when you went all in."
In that moment, I knew we had to have, or at least try to have, Le Anne Pope on this podcast. She was gracious enough to agree and as an added bonus, we were able to get her husband to join us.
Mark Pope played professional basketball for nine years after being drafted into the NBA by the Indiana Pacers in 1996. Following a national championship winning season with the University of Kentucky. He completed two years of medical school at Columbia before returning to his passion on the basketball court. He was an assistant coach at Wake Forest University and comes to BYU from Utah Valley University where he was head coach for four seasons. Lee Anne Pope was raised the daughter of a coach. She graduated from Brigham Young University and worked for ESPN before spending four years as David Letterman's personal assistant. Side by side, she and Mark have moved around as his professional basketball career and coaching career have progressed and they are the parents of four daughters.
This is "All In," an LDS living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm Morgan Jones and I am so grateful to have Mark and Lee Anne Pope with me today. Welcome.
Mark Pope: Thank you.
Lee Anne Pope: Thanks for having us, Morgan.
MJ: Well, I wanted to have the two of you on and I'll tell you a little bit of the backstory on this. Sheri Dew said, "You know, who do you need to interview? Mark Pope." And then I went to Women's Conference, and I heard Lee Anne speak and I was like, "This woman is a powerhouse. We've got to get Mark and Lee Anne Pope on the show." And then I was reading Mark about your coming to BYU, and I read this quote from you. You said, "My number one mentor, without a doubt and there's no close second is Lee Anne Pope, my wife. All of us get to walk this journey. She's the smartest person I know. She's the most beautiful person I know. And she's the funniest person I know." High praise.
MP: It's true. I mean, it's just true. So you know, it's interesting because I mean, we've lived a little bit of a public life in terms of our responsibility, right? And so you have a lot of people that are chiming in all the time. But those of us that are really blessed, right? We have you know, like Lee Anne is my confidant of all confidants, she's my advisor, she's actually my most honest and toughest critic.
LP: For sure your most honest.
MP: And, and that's a real blessing. And she's also, she is, she's the smartest person I know and she's almost always right and she really is always right but I tried to say almost just so she didn't get too big a head.
MJ: I feel like you two are like a power couple so I'm so excited to have this conversation. And I think it's interesting because people probably are more familiar with Mark's journey to BYU. They know that you came from UVU, they know that you played in the NBA, but they may not know as much about you Lee Anne, which I'm excited to introduce people to you. You grew up the daughter of a college basketball coach. How did that shape the person that you are and how has that helped you in being the wife of a basketball coach?
LP: Well, I think the way it shaped me, I mean, if you know my mom, my mom is feisty. And so I had a front seat of...I think all of my feistiness comes from my mom, who is the ultimate coach's wife.
MP: Just multiply feisty by 1000
LP: It's true, it's true. When I think about being a coach's daughter. We moved a lot. So we adapted. You know, moving and being the new kid over and over again. I mean, not just coaches kids have deal with that, I mean military there's lots of different professions where that affects your family but I think about that. I think about how close our family was. You know when you live kind of a public life and your dad take some hits. You know, my brothers got in fistfights at school and we were we were very close knit family. We moved in high school, all three of us were in high school and we moved to Arizona when my dad joined the Arizona State staff and I think about just walking to school together and I really grew up with this feeling, "As long as we're together. We're fine." And I think that translates really well, obviously, for obvious reasons, but it's different being the mom, right? In that world with our four daughters. But of course, there's so much I take from the way we grew up and the way my mom and dad chose to do it, that we are walking a similar road with our girls.
MP: Lee Anne also knows the game. Like she knows the game. She knows the Xs and Os of the game. She knows the rules of the game. The first time we ever talked, she explained to me what a gray shirt was, I was a professional and she's telling me the technicalities of the game and so she's familiar with every facet.
LP: I was the only girl, so I had, to just be able to speak at the dinner table, I had to know my stuff.
MJ: Yeah, you have to be able to hold your own. That's understandable. So I'm curious, your dad was the coach at the University of Utah. Were you a Ute fan?
LP: I was.
MJ: So how does how does this translate?
LP: It was a long time ago. My loyalty follows my dad and Mark so I was a Ute hardcore, bled red. And the minute we left there, I was an Arizona State fan. 100%. And when my dad joined that Cougar staff, I was a Cougar.
LP: So my loyalty shifts with the person. One hundred percent.
MJ: Well, I think that's the way to do it. So Mark, you played basketball for the University of Kentucky before you played professionally in the NBA and overseas as well in Turkey. Is that right?
MP: Yep, that's right.
MJ: What was it like being a member of the Church in those environments? And I'm curious, was it ever hard to maintain your standards?
MP: Yeah, it was it was a blessing probably. t helped me navigate through a lot of stuff that there are a lot of pitfalls and it was also fun. As athletes we have so many things in common and we can speak a same, a very similar language and in a lot of ways that language kind of, it can grow. It can kind of grow out into faith right? Into the things we believe and the standards we hold true. And so actually, I was married to Lee Anne for most of my NBA career. And so together, we have so many fond memories of our interactions with my teammates, and their spouse or their girlfriend or their families, where sometimes our life choices seemed way, way off the beaten path. But really, when you become so close that it becomes more of this intense curiosity than any type of like judgment or anything like that. So it was great. It was a blessing to kind of have these guiding principles. Lee Anne and I talk about it all the time...we really do, we feel like every blessing that we've received in our life has been because we have been able to do our best to live this gospel walk. Right? And so it was unbelievable.
MJ: Yeah. You mentioned this having had this experience together and I remembered one thing that you said at Women's Conference where you talked about being in Bible study...in one of the places that you lived. How does that life like, coming into that life as members of the Church and trying to be a part of like a more Christian community? How do you balance that? How do you figure that out?
LP: You know, just kind of piggybacking on what Mark said, you know, we, there's obvious reasons, being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, our standards and our faith and how we choose to live. But I don't think Mark and I really look at people, as members or non members. I mean, our experience in the NBA, we really loved (them), they were our friends and we love them and we were different and there was a mutual respect. And it wasn't this...the separation was, I think, probably maybe less than maybe you think, because in a locker room, everything's exposed. They knew exactly who Mark was, that he was legit that he was who he said he was. And there was a respect there that was really fun. And those women, those wives that I got to be with, we were on four different teams, were my girlfriends, they were friends, they weren't my "non-member friends." They were my friends. And they knew exactly what I was about. And they knew if I taught a Relief Society lesson, and they would ask me about that thing I was preparing. They didn't maybe use all the right terminology, but who cares?
MJ: Yeah, doesn't matter.
LP: And then we got into coaching, so I think I think the idea of really bringing them into our lives, and we had I mean, we have really fun stories about that. But that Bible study, that great quote that she said, "If you don't hold out on the Lord, He won't hold out on you." It was really fun. And I learned how much common, there's so much more common ground than there is, is differences. And I would go to those Bible studies at the University of Georgia, and it was uplifting and wonderful and you hear things that you believe in a different way, because they say it a little different. Maybe the person sharing the devotional is talking about faith or sacrifice, repentance, and saying it in a little different way that it hits you different and I was so grateful for that. Some of my greatest, for sure, some of my greatest spiritual kind of lighthouses in my life, don't share my faith, but we share a common belief in Jesus Christ and in his spiritual life. And one of my girlfriends in particular from North Carolina, she's kind of my go-to when I'm kind of bouncing things off and I appreciate a little different perspective. But again, so much common ground, more though then then the difference. Do you agree Mark Pope?
MP: I do agree.
LP: Good. I was just checking.
MJ: I do think there's so much to be had when we kind of step outside and I think, in other places, it's a lot easier to do that than it is in Utah. And obviously, we have listeners everywhere, but I think here in Utah it can be kind of hard sometimes to step outside of your little Latter-day Saint bubble. And I love the benefit that is to be had when we do that. Lee Anne, before you ever met Mark, you had some pretty unique experiences. You worked for ESPN, and you were a personal assistant for David Letterman.
MJ: Which people may recognize that name.
LP: Yes, yes, yes. But sometimes I am, like Women's Conference and there's times I've had conversations with people, and I'm a little bit further down the path and I'll have a whole conversation and they'll say, "So he's the guy with the suspenders?" I couldn't think, I was like "No. That's Larry King." There's a lot of confusion who he is, but he has a great Netflix series right now that's "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction." It's really great.
MJ: I just watched his interview with Malala.
LP: Yes. His interview with Jay Z is great. His interview with Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld. I just saw the one with Ellen this week. I mean, he's, he's a genius. But it was a really fun time in my life. It really was. You know, I graduated from BYU in journalism and I had that opportunity at ESPN that started off as an internship and then developed into a job opportunity. And then, years ago, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" started and one of his assistants went to write for Rosie and Heather Peterson who I had gone to BYU with, we had spent a summer together in New York City interning together, she was on Dave's staff and she said you should come down and interview and I was actually really kind of torn up about it because I was at ESPN. I was wanting to go into sports journalism. This was like "It." And my dad's like, "You know, you go for the opportunity, to interview itself will be an opportunity." And I went and walking into Ed Sullivan theater was electric for me. It was such an exciting feeling. And luckily, a few weeks later, I was offered the job. I worked for him for close to four years until Mark and I met. And it was such a special time in my life. And I grew up, I mean living in New York City, on your own, I feel like, as a young person, that made me. You know, that made me those experiences making those choices. I got to work with Heather who was, that was my partner in crime and to share those experiences together were pretty awesome. And he was wonderful to work for. You know, I lost my dad during the time that I worked for him. And he was so gracious that in that competitive atmosphere that it seems like nobody slept or ate or drank or left the office. He gave me time to go be with my dad and was really gracious to my mom after my dad passed so I will forever be grateful for that time personally and then just how he treated treated me and my family. It was wonderful and fun.
MJ: Totally. Mark, we'll get to you in just a second because I want to hear...
MP: I'm actually enjoying this. We don't need to reroute this conversation at all.
LP One of the great memories from when Mark and I were dating. He's a huge Harry Connick Jr. fan or he was yes. I guess you still are?
MP: I am! I can still sing. I'll bring it a little later in the podcast, a little later.
LP: Harry Connick Jr.was rehearsing at the Late Show. And just for a second, I called, this was before cell phones, and I call and let Mark just hear him, just sing and rehearse.
MP: It was unbelievable. I mean, the greatest little job in the world.
LP: And it was just for a minute, if anyone's listening, if that's illegal, it was just for a minute.
MP: Is that illegal?
LP: I don't know.
MJ: And you're like, and that's when she won me over.
MP: No, she won me over the first time I heard her voice.
MJ: Okay. Okay. So pause we have to really quickly—when you spoke at Women's Conference, you talked a little bit about some of these experiences that you had working for David Letterman. And how, as a member of the Church that you and your friend Heather, both members of the Church, which is so funny that two right Latter-day Saint girls would be working for him. But how that experience, like the way that the respect that he showed for your beliefs and things like that, are there any specific experiences that you can kind of share from that time in your life?
LP: Yeah, you know, it was Mormon number one, or Mormon number two, depending on who he liked best that day. And we would take the ratings and in the morning, it was "You're Mormon number one," because he had great ratings. And if you didn't have great ratings, you were Mormon number two. It was very much a part of who we were. And just again, I think this idea of like, it was so much a part of who we were. And it was a part of our everyday there was no hiding who we were that it was, it was fun to share everything that we gave him. We gave him bread for Christmas one year and it became Mormon bread. Mormon bread was the best bread that that there was. I guess it was very much a part of who we are.
MP: No, I'm sorry. Our sound producer just gave Lee Anne a look for pounding on the table with passion. You can't do that!
LP: So yeah, yeah. Mark was the Mormon boy.
MJ: When you started dating Mark?
MP: And there were cooking contests.
LP: Yes, Heather and Dave had some cooking, cook offs, some meatloaf and Mormon meatloaf was a great part of that.
MJ: This is amazing. And you said, you guys gave him his family history.
LP: Yes, we gave him for Christmas our first year, what do you get David Letterman, right? We were two college kids and my mom, as she often does, had a great idea. And she said you should get him his his genealogy. And so my mom's neighbor at the time was kind of a genealogist guru. And she worked with Dave's mom. And we, on Christmas Eve, well the Friday before Christmas break, we presented him with two like beautiful leather binders that were his genealogy and we went on break and we came back and he didn't really say anything. And then he called us into his office one day. And he was kind of like he had these two binders. And he was like, "How many private investigators did you hire to find all this information?"
And then there was this moment where he was kind of like, "What is this about?" And it was kind of the first time that I realized that we'd never had a conversation about our faith, or what we were about, this was obviously early on when we were working for him. And it was kind of like, he kind of listed all these things that he'd noticed, you know, we'd walked out of a movie premiere that wasn't quite rated yet. And Heather and I had gone and it was not PG or PG-13 or in the ballpark. And so we walked out, but (he) never said anything until that moment. And then he kind of asked us about that. He asked, my dad used to call me every morning and sing me the cougar fight song. And it was like, you know, that probably didn't happen on maybe some of his other staffs, but he kind of asked us about all of these different parts of that he kind of observed at that time. I think that was my first clue that that you're being watched and observed whether you talk about it or not. And Heather had served a full-time mission and was really comfortable talking about our faith and was able to kind of tell them why this was important, why it mattered. And there were things, like stories that he knew about his family, and then I mean, this woman that helped us had found articles that he was like, "I knew this happened. But there's the article." It was really sweet. It was really sweet. And it was a great, unique gift right? For him.
MJ: Yeah, if anybody's looking for gift ideas. So then the two of you meet because Lee Anne's brothers met Mark.
LP: Yes, my older brother met Mark. I just cut you off Morgan, I'm sorry.
MJ: No, no, you're fine.
LP: My older brother Damon, I'm an only girl and so they took things into their own hands and Damon met Mark at a pro camp, came back met me in San Francisco after this and he's like, "I just met the male version of you. He's you but he's a dude. He's you but he's a dude."
MP: And he also said "He is the coolest human being I've ever met. Didn't he say that?"
MJ: Which is accurate.
MP: No. That's a lie. Liar!
LP: And then actually my brother played it perfectly because he gave mark my phone number and said, "Hey, when you go to New York, you should call my sister she'll hook you up, she can take you on a tour of the show or whatever." But he told me that you were going to call and ask me dinner.
MP: Best thing he ever did.
MJ: So how was your approach, like how did you ask her out?
MP: Oh it was really lacking so if we get to cut right to the chase, so a bunch of stuff goes on and we finally get Lee Anne coming to Indianapolis the first time we're ever going to meet in person. So me being the stylish person that I am, finished working out and I had a couple hours. I'm like, "I gotta go buy a shirt." And I can't tell you how challenging it is for me to shop. Because I have no style, color coordination whatsoever. So I ended up showing up in a beautiful blue mock turtleneck with brown corduroy, like killer slacks.
LP: You had a lot of colors on but I was only looking at your eyes so it was totally fine.
MP: And it was magic. It was love at first sight.
LP: When Mark and I were set up. We talked on the phone and emailed each other for six weeks. Six weeks. We never saw each other. So when I go into Indianapolis, I was actually there on business for Dave, it was the first time that we met. So this was like, I mean, we would write each other emails.
MP: Literally we have all the emails, every single day.
LP: It is a little bit
MJ: It's like "You've Got Mail."
MP: But better!
LP: Because Mark is a good writer. He's really a good writer.
MJ: Yeah, so first impression when you see each other in person? You're like she's a babe?
MP: I was too nervous to look at her. I kid you not.
LP: We were both kind of that way.
MP: I was too nervous to look at her
LP: Because I already knew he was like...I've never met anyone like him. I already was kind of smitten.
MP: First of all, a trainwreck of a first date because my brother and his wife have just flown in and they're going to a conference in Indianapolis and they need me to take care of their newborn baby! So I'm in my totally uncool pickup truck with a baby in the back when I pull up to Lee Anne's hotel to pick her up, wearing brown corduroy jeans and a blue mock turtleneck.
LP: And black shoes and I think a brown belt.
MP: But a big time haircut. So Lee Anne jumps into the car and I kind of caught a glimpse of her but I got hands on ten and two looking straight ahead. And we're way behind. I actually had to take my niece and drop her off at some stranger's house to babysit so we could go on this date.
LP: And then we pull into the gas station.
MP: No, no. So we drop off the baby. I'm in a full sweat because we're late for...we were going to the...
LP: We were going to the community theater.
MP: So here she is coming from New York City and I'm like I'm gonna take it to a Christmas Spectacular in Indianapolis, Indiana.
LP: It was great.
MP: It was a total colossal fail.
LP: My mom loves to tell this part of the story. So he pulls into the gas station. We've just dropped off.
MP: We missed dinner, we totally missed dinner.
LP: And we're at the gas station and he's like, "Hey, go in and get whatever you want. You just go crazy."
MJ: Knock yourself out.
LP: I'm like, Twinkies Twizzlers? It was great.
MP: So then literally, I kid you not. This is the truth. We're in the gas station. Okay. Lee Anne is there at the like the little, the little deli that has like two four day old sandwiches left over that she's trying to decide which one she's going to eat for dinner. And so I finished putting gas in the car and I sneak around and then I take my first real glimpse at her from, like hiding behind the grocery counter. And mind you we've been exchanging phone calls and emails for like three months.
LP: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you're right. Yeah. No, no, like, like, like eight weeks.
MP: Genuinely I was, I was madly in love with her already. And then, lo and behold, she's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life. And I was like, YES!
LP: It was fun.
MP: And then I got nervous, because I'm like, "She's not gonna talk to me after this debacle that we're going through tonight."
LP: And I knew at the time, they'd be coming to Indianapolis once a month for the next little while.
MJ: Oh that's convenient.
LP: But I did not tell mark that until the second date of that weekend. And then I said, I'm actually coming back.
MP: Because the second date is when I really brought the thunder.
MJ: Well, I have to tell you that on my mission, we had like a little bit of a contest when we'd go over to people's houses for dinner. We'd ask them how they met, and then they'd tell us that story. And then we'd ask them how they proposed and we had a bit of a contest, you know, to see who had the best story.
LP: So you would come back and like tell each other like what the different family? Okay. And the judges were the missionaries?
MJ: Yes. And then we tell the people when we thought they had a really great story, "We're like, as it turns out, you're in contention." But I feel like your story could be in contention.
LP: We were lucky. And you know, also on a serious note, you can't put Heavenly Father in a box. You know, I mean, I was in New York City. He was in Indianapolis. There's no way I mean that that doesn't organically happen, right? And I remember being in New York City and dating, and you're just kind of like, hey, so this is it. Right? And then my guy was in Indianapolis and it kind of happened and, and we never lived in the same city. We flew back and forth for a year. And it got to be almost every weekend.
MP: I was 27. I was in Indianapolis, we had a singles ward in Indianapolis with like 14 people in it. And it was just a small membership community. Right? And then, like, from the heavens drops Lee Anne. It was amazing. But that's really true. Like this idea. And we had both gone through an experience recently, just before we met, where we had both kind of renewed our, individually on our own, renewed our commitments to our faith, right? And then it was quickly rewarded, which was just miraculous.
LP: It doesn't always happen that way. But for us it did. Yeah, I shared that story with you before Morgan that I was kind of dating somebody. And I just had this really simple, which those kind of special moments sometimes are really simple, in a Manhattan chapel that I just, I was trying to make this relationship work. We weren't of the same faith. But gosh, there were so many parts that seemed like they fit and, and I just had this moment of like, this isn't what I'm supposed to be doing Lee Anne Pope. And just a few short months later, I met Mark, it doesn't always work out that way. But it did for me. And in my story, it was like I had this moment that I'm like, "This is who I am, I am all in." And then, you know, lucky enough Mark was right around the corner. And he had a similar experience and that was later on down the road that we shared that with one another. But we both kind of had these experiences, like, you know what, no matter what like with our faith and our commitment. Mark was so involved in that branch, and I was so involved in what I was doing there in New York City with the really cool single adult community.
MJ: I love that idea of not putting God in a box, I think you're speaking to my soul, I need to hear that message. So thank you for that.
MP: Well listen, if I can expand on that, one of the thing's that's hard. Like, I think one of the things, it's hard living in this community, where you have so you have such a cultural pull towards certain ideals, is that we start to tend to think that there's a pattern, that there's like a checklist of the things that we're supposed to do and when we're supposed to do them. And certainly there's something that but if you get too engaged in like this checklist of exactly how your life is supposed to go or what you're supposed to achieve or when you're supposed to do it or when you're supposed to do certain things, then where is the room for Heavenly Father to work miracles in your life? I really deeply genuinely believe that right? And so you know, that faith component about, about really believing that, you know, that Heavenly Father's paying attention to what you're experiencing right now. He understands what you're experiencing and that hey, all of us, thank goodness, we all get to walk different paths. Right? And sometimes that's hard. I think in this environment where you have a strong concentration of members of the Church that you kind of fall into patterns that I'm not sure it's necessarily exactly where we're supposed to be.
MJ: Yeah. Well, speaking of that, you all have lived all over the place together. I think you said it Women's Conference that you had a child like every...
LP: Every team that Mark played on, Ella was born Milwaukee Buck. Avery was born a New York Knick, Layla was born a Denver Nugget. I was acquired as an Indiana Pacers. Mark will always be a Kentucky Wildcat.
MJ: When that's the case, what does the gospel mean? As you kind of move around, and what kind of foundation does that give your family?
LP: It is the foundation. You know, every place we've moved, there's just a soft place to fall when you have a ward and with all the stress of the moves and you know, oftentimes Mark just takes the job and he's gone. Like when he signs the team, he's gone. And then I'm packing, selling the house, whatever that's just how it works in this world. And I just feel like everything will be okay, when the movers are gone and we get to walk into that ward. And it's happened over and over again without fail that we get to walk into a ward and it's the soft place to fall. And you have 10 ladies come up to you to tell you the best preschool, the best doctor, this is where you need to go, come over for dinner. And those ladies throughout that path have saved me. And then also in a really, really truly, we have this basketball family. So each place that we landed, we had this wonderful ward family that embraced us and loved us. And you know, Mark travels a lot. And so that love and compassion really just encircled me and our girls. And then we had this great basketball family. So I don't know how you do it, if you don't have that, I don't know how I would do it because it really was an exhale moment when I got to go in and sit in Sacrament meeting, like, "We're here."
MJ: We made it.
LP: And then those ladies that were further down the path, they're a little older than me or the ladies that I aligned with our children, they have raised me, and I am so grateful. I mean the women of the Church are extraordinary. And so when you say how do you move, that's how you do it.
MJ: And then I think on top of that, too, is the principles of the gospel too are so powerful as a compass. Because, you know, for us, all the constant move and all the constant change and the pressure and the stress and everything you're going through as a young family, as newlyweds. And then as where we are now. It constantly can be this disorienting force, where you, every day you wake up and you're in a new place doing a new thing and that disorienting feeling can sometimes it can get you sideways and get you places where you don't want to go. And so having this compass of the gospel, and having the standards of the gospel that even though everything else in your life may have turned upside down in one day, and then happen again, a year later, everything's changed, everything's turned upside down, you still have this, these guiding principles of the gospel, right? And, you know, I was playing for the, and the standard that you live by, that you know is true, right? And you can always go back to that no matter how where things get. I was playing for the Denver Nuggets. And Carmelo Anthony was a rookie and I had a great young roster, it was kind of all colorful, you know, all like a colorful group of guys and their attitudes and approaches to life. And we all kind of shared some things so much in common. And then we all kind of made some wildly different life decisions. So these guys knew that I love Heavenly Father so much, that I'm incredibly faithful, that my faith is really important to me and that I live by real standards. And they knew that like the Savior like that, I felt like I had personal claim like we all do on the Savior. Right? And so it was this time we're in the locker room and "The Passion," I think it's "The Passion" had come out. With Jim Caviezel, who I actually played with his brother at Washington. Anyway...
LP: Mel Gibson produced.
MP: It's a motion picture in all theaters, about the Savior, about His life. And so Carmelo came in the locker room one morning, he's like, "Pope, I went to the passion last night. But there's, there's a bunch of things I don't understand, so you got to tell me this, this and this." And so a couple of the guys had gathered around, and I'm like, "I haven't seen it." And so Melo was like, "Well, when you go see it, you have to explain this stuff to me." And so I was like, "Well, I'm actually not going to see it. It's rated R and I don't actually I don't go see R-rated movies. And in that moment, Carmelo and a couple teammates, their minds exploded! They're like "You talk about the Savior more than anybody else we know. And you're not going to the movie. How is this possible?" But it's this idea of like, hey, we have standards, that when everything else gets disoriented, if you just kind of hold fast to those then it can kind of keep you grounded and keep you safe. Just like Leanne talked about, about knowing that you're going to move into a ward that's going to be familiar and kind of bring you back to where you are. It's a beautiful gift. This gospel, I kid you not, it's the best thing going. I don't know if that's exactly the reverent way to say it, but it's really true.
LP: Yeah. And when you're fully in, if you're all in, it makes decisions clear, not easy, but it makes them really clear...and change and the gospel were probably the most constant parts of our life, the first 15 years right? Change and the gospel.
MJ: One thing that I loved when you talked at Women's Conference, Lee Anne, you had this and we quoted it in the intro, but you said "The greatest moments will be moments when you went all in." And I want to kind of talk about this. Obviously, this is like, the whole idea behind this podcast is this idea of what does it mean to be all in? And we were really deliberate when we chose the question that we ask at the end of each episode, because we didn't feel like there was one way to be all in, that being all in may look different to different people.
LP: 100 percent.
MJ: But that it's a blessing to choose to be all in in whatever way that looks like for you. And so I'm curious for you guys, I have just a couple of questions as we wrap up about this idea. First of all, what has your involvement both of you, in sports and in the sports world, taught you about being all in, buying in completely?
MP: I think that when you're all in, it's a guaranteed success because even your worst failures turn out to be these incredible moments, right? The key for me is, and I talked to my players about this all the time we talk about as a team all the time, is that when you're willing to fully invest, hold nothing back. That win, lose or draw the real, the real victory is in the experience, like your experience, and the meaning it's going to have in your life is completely dependent on how much you invest in that experience, right. And so the guys that kind of come to the game, for me the game of basketball, the guys that come to the game, and they withhold, they hold on to their own agendas. They don't sacrifice everything for their team, they have their own vision of what they're supposed to do. They don't work as hard as they can, they don't bring it every single day. Those guys don't get as much out of the game, the game doesn't mean as much to them, they don't get a chance for this game to teach them everything it can. The guys that kind of turn their whole being over to the game and the team. They come every day and they work hard to be mentally prepared to go compete as hard as they can. They work hard on finding how they can grow bonds with their teammates every single day. They put everything they have into this experience. Those are the guys that win, lose or draw, they learn something about themselves. I talk about this all the time, the day that Larry Bird brought me into his office and fired me was one of the most...I was devastated. And I was embarrassed. And it made me feel like a lot of things I'd worked for my whole life were just down the drain. It was such an awful moment, right? And then looking back, I'm like, it's one of the moments I treasure most in my life. I'm crying in front of Larry Bird. And then I walk out of the locker room and there's Reggie Miller and Mark Jackson and tears are streaming down my face. And how embarrassing is that? I'm a bad player in that league and I just got fired by my all time hero, right? But the thing is, is that goes away really quick. And then you're like, you know what I put everything I had into that, like I dedicated everything I had to that. And obviously the correlations to the gospel are so clear. So that something we talk about, being all in is if you'll go all in, then the richness of the reward and the richness of the growth that you get to experience is really, it's really incredible.
LP: I think it translates 100% to our testimonies and to the relationships in our life. I mean, we fought for the opportunity to come here and have this earthly experience. And I'm just like, "What's the point if you're not going to give it everything?" And I think what you said when you asked the question Morgan, it's different for everyone, and it is personal. And we are all at different places in our lives, different circumstances. But I do believe that, that what that means to you, I think is an easy question. Because it's between you and your Heavenly Father, it's not for me to tell you what all in looks like. But I know what that is for me. And I know that at different times in my life, it looked really different. I mean, when I had little toddlers, my all in was very different. And of course, I didn't have this perspective at the time, but when I look back, you're like, I did my best then, and how I served and my marriage is different than having four teenagers, and the freedoms that I have. And I have, I have a little more choice of time, in some ways, things that you know, sometimes making it to the temple was really hard when you have little babies. That's not a struggle I have now so that all in is going to be different at different times in our lives and I think we need to be forgiving and soft with ourselves. But I think it's a really personal decision. And I think what Mark just so eloquently said translates beautifully to our relationships, our testimonies, how we serve, our talents, and how we develop those. And if you give it everything you've got, then when you walk away, it's an experience and it's sometimes painful. I mean, you can give your all on a mission, but it ends and that's hard. And in our oldest is leaving for college in a week. And I've given her you know, that is my girl and it is brutal. But I would have it no other way. I mean, I've given everything I have. It's all on the court, and she's ready to take this next step. And it's how it's supposed to be. But it doesn't mean it's easy, it stinks actually.
MP: And all in has nothing to do with perfection. It has nothing to do with it, it has to do with trying as hard as you can, like trying as hard as you can.
LP: And not holding anything back. Yeah, I mean, I think you know, sometimes in relationships, you know, when you're dating somebody and there's the point where like, you're both like, "We're dating. We're all in," there's that you know that feeling that you're kind of holding something back. And then there's the point where you jump in with both feet, like we're going to give this a go on whatever level.
MJ: I've never get to that point but I'm sure it's a delightful spot to be in. No, I'm just kidding.
MP: You're going to get there and when you get there it's going too be terrifying. And like the greatest thing in the world.
LP: But there's a point where you're kind of like, "Here we go, like we're going to give this a go" or when you define what it is. I don't know, that just popped in my brain, it's a little bit of a feeling of like, "Oh I don't know, I don't know, and this, like, you know what, let's...
MJ: Well, I think it's that space of vulnerability.
MJ: Brene, what a woman.
MP: Yes. Well said, Brene Brown. Let's go!
MP: She's the greatest ever. But that's the idea of like, being all in also requires faith, like it is, the way we think about it, it is quintessentially a leap of faith, to say, you know what, I can't guarantee this is going to work out. But I'm not going to keep a backup plan. I'm not gonna like measure my steps. You know, we talk about I mean, I love Peter, we love Peter in our family. We love him so much. And Peter is such an incredible example in the scriptures of trying to be all in and everything he does, right? When he sees the Savior walking across the water. He doesn't sit in the boat and he's like, let me, "Can I come try? Will you let me come try it? Let me jump in and try," right?
LP: And then when he falls in? He doesn't try to save...he asks...
MP: 100% because he's all in with the Savior. And when the Savior is washing the apostles' feet and he gets to Peter and Peter says no, "You're not gonna, you're not washing my feet, like you're my master. I should be serving you" essentially is what I read the scriptures as him saying. The Savior tells him, "Well, if you don't let me wash your feet, then you're not with me." Right? And so Peter, immediately on a dime, jumps on and he says, "Well then don't just wash my feet, wash my face and my head and my hands and wash everything because I want to be in, like I want to be all in." Right? He's got like, there's like five other examples where he kind of is like, he messes up or it doesn't go exactly like he wants it to but then he just reroutes immediately when he learns and says I want to be all in. And I think that's what all it is. I mean, I don't think we have to look much farther than Peter to kind of see a great example of, of being all in and it has nothing to do with him living a perfect life at all.
LP: Nothing to do with perfect.
MP: He's just trying.
MJ: Well, I want to give you both an opportunity as we wrap up to answer this question. For you personally, if you had to sum it all up, what does it mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
LP: I think where, when I think about where I'm at right now, you know, I talk to our girls a lot about like choosing...and this is just, my daughter's at EFY right now and I just talked to her about being like, like, you're going to get out of this, what you put into it, right? So give it all you've got. And remember the kids there that maybe aren't coming with a buddy and talking about kind of what you put into it. And let Heavenly Father work some magic, like give him the opportunity right in being open. And I think about choosing to believe, you know, I think that being all in for me, I say that to the girls, like we've had so many tender mercies in our life recently. And I say, I choose to believe. That's my choice. And fully. And I believe that, that He's in the details of our lives and knows the things that are hard for us and those things that we're struggling with. So I think all in right now is choosing to believe and recognize wholeheartedly His hand in my life. And I think about that as again, like I have one that's getting ready to leave for school, and you're kind of trying to shove all this stuff into them, just in case! And we talked a lot about that, you know, in recognizing that you're not ever, you are never alone, and that He knows and He's there for you, and He will answer you in just the right time. I think that's what I feel right now about being all in the gospel.
MP: That's beautiful about this idea of choosing to believe, all these times when we see Heavenly Father's hand on our life and we can really make a conscious choice about like, "I'm going to shake it off as something else, or we're going to choose in Him." I think that's a great way of being all in. I think about being all in as, first of all, I think in terms of the gospel, I am a complete failure at being all in but I try repeatedly to be all in. Right? And I think that's, I think in a sense that is being all in, I think about being all in as, you know, we had an experience six months ago maybe where we were at a time in our life where we had just kind of barely felt like we were just getting our head above water, where we could barely breathe for the first time. And all of us, I think all of us feel that way, everybody's busy. And everybody's like in any type of different way. And so we genuinely, we were just feeling like we were just wrapping our hands around a couple of things and we kind of had figured out the way to work time and make everything just kind of fit if we were perfectly accountable to everything we did timewise. And then we were extended a really, really challenging calling. We actually showed up to the Stake President's office thinking it was totally something different. And I remember the feeling when the calling was extended was like I think my face went pale. And I just remember feeling "We cannot add one more thing into what we're trying to do right now." And I think this is a feeling that a lot of us have had that are they're trying to find a way to be faithful members of Church, and then you just kind of close your eyes and you're like, "Yep, we're in. We're going to do it." In this moment, for us in our small lives. We got some really great words and some great counsel from our Stake President and his counselors, and then the blessings that have fallen down on us since then have been immense. And that time has somehow found a way to work but in that moment, you're like, "Hey, I have no idea how this could work. But we're going to try and let's go." And I think we're so lucky in this gospel, because we have moments like that over and over and over again. "I got to give a talk in sacrament. I have no idea how this is going to work, how it's going to function," right? "I gotta go do my ministry. And we got to see if we can build relationships and see if we can kind of love people and all those little things are a little moments of faith where I think it gives us a chance to try and be all in."
MJ: I think that that is so spot on. And I love it because you talked about Peter, and in Come Follow Me reading about Peter. I kept thinking, you know, Peter is probably like the most relatable person in the scriptures because he just tried, you know, kept trying and like failed sometimes. But other times he like succeeded brilliantly. And he's the reason that we have the Church as we have it, I feel like and so we owe Peter a lot of gratitude, and I'm sure with us, it's like generations later, if we just try, they'll feel like, you know, they owe us something, hopefully. And you two are just such a delight. Thank you so, so much for being with us, for sharing your testimonies and your experiences. It's been so wonderful to talk to you.
LP: Thanks, Morgan.
MP: Thanks for having us.
MJ: A huge thank you to Mark and Lee Anne Pope for joining us on this week's episode of "All In," I hope you love this episode as much as I did. We'll be back again next week with another episode. But in the meantime, I hope that "All In," keeps you company on your summer roadtrips and gives you something to talk about at neighborhood barbecues and with friends. If you haven't already, please give us a rating or a review on iTunes and don't forget to subscribe. Thanks so much for listening.