Danny Ainge’s storied career with the Boston Celtics, both as a player and as president of basketball operations will soon come to a close, as was announced Wednesday in news that took the sports world by storm. Ainge’s position will be filled by current Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. Ainge, who brought two NBA titles to Boston as a player and one NBA title as an executive, says his decision to step down was prompted by his family’s concern following a heart attack two years ago. “I started thinking about my life and what I’d like to accomplish. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t have any plans,” Ainge said Wednesday.
During Ainge’s time in the spotlight, both as an athlete and as an NBA executive, he has often been identified as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is clear that he has never shied away from his membership in the Church.
Recently, Ainge publicly shared his testimony in an online fireside hosted by missionaries serving in the Connecticut Hartford Mission. Ainge shared how he ended up at BYU and the influence that and other decisions have played in his life.
Near the conclusion of the fireside, Ainge was asked about the crossroads between his career and his spiritual life—how he knows when to let the two intersect and when to keep them separate.
“I don’t think I ever keep them separate,” Ainge replied. “I think they’re both part of who I am on a daily basis. I’m always a child of God. I’m always a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m always a representative of the Boston Celtics, and I think I carry all of those titles every day, and I don’t really have to dismiss any one of them to be part of the other.”
Ainge was also asked about how he was able to be a bishop in the Church along with his demanding career. He applauded his counselors, “superhuman Relief Society presidents,” and many others who helped him fulfill his Church responsibilities.
An NBA.com reporter, Ian Thomsen, interviewed Ainge in 2015 at length about his Church service as bishop.
“I spent most of my Sundays going from church to homes to minister and visit the needy and the sick, and visiting hospitals and those that were sick,” Ainge said. “And I spent time counseling people, usually on Wednesday nights and most of my Sundays. … You're just helping those in need, and there is a great satisfaction in life that comes from that. And the great perspective of life that you learn from that.”
In the NBA.com article that is no longer available online, but was shared by LDS Living, Ainge also spoke his gratitude for the priesthood:
Every time I laid my hands on someone's head to give them a blessing, I could say I felt really inspired every time; but that's not true. There were times when things came out of my mouth that were not mine; but there were also times when the human side of me probably didn't do as well communicating. But every time I felt this increased amount of love toward the person that was receiving the blessing. Whether they were going through a struggle in their marriage, whether they were going through addictions. Whether they were sick or getting ready for a major surgery or cancer or whatever it may be. There was this amazing increase in love for that person. And you really come to understand that love is endless.
Following the Boston Celtics 17th NBA championship victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008, Ainge, who was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year for his management of the club that year, spoke of his faith and its focus on service. “The service element helps me to balance my life,” he said, according to Church Newsroom.