Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Baylor's Jake Lindsey leans on God's promises as he's forced to end basketball career

The athletics program at Baylor University periodically releases in-depth, personal articles about its athletes on campus. The compilation of articles, called the Champions’ TriBUne, is designed to give fans the athletes’ perspectives and tell their stories in their own voice.

Recently featured on the Champions’ TriBUne was Jake Lindsey, a senior guard on the Bears’ basketball team. Lindsey was a part of two NCAA Tournament teams and started 14 of the Bears’ 34 games a season ago. He led the team in steals and finished second in assists, all while averaging 23 minutes a game. This year, he had to sit out.

Lindsey’s article certainly talks about basketball, but he had so much more to say.

He began his article with a series of thank-yous for his time at Baylor but eventually turned his attention to his complicated health struggles. In high school and throughout his first three years in college, Lindsey played through a condition known as FAI (Femoroacetabular Impingement), which causes pain and stiffness in the hips. He had surgery in May 2018 when his condition became untenable, but a new problem arose.

While still recovering from hip surgery, Lindsey was slapped with a new diagnosis: Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, which severely affects the nerves and muscles in his neck and back. The condition is rare and incurable, and the timetable for recovery is measured in months and years. His career at Baylor was over.

“The phrase that athletes die twice is far truer than any former athlete ever wants to admit,” Lindsey said. “It’s hard.”

As a competitor, Lindsey’s first instinct was to be bitter that he was robbed of the game he loves. As a Christ-follower, he didn’t stay that way. Instead, he trusted in God’s good and perfect plan for his life and turned his attention back to basketball, recognizing that it was still a gift from God meant to be savored.

“I truly cannot remember enjoying watching a team play basketball as much as I love watching our guys hoop,” he said.

And Lindsey didn’t shy away from the faith that freed him to enjoy an otherwise depressing situation. On the contrary, his article put it on display for the world to see:

“I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through the whole process without the faith that Baylor Basketball helped contribute to. When my idol of basketball was ripped from me, I found that God had been preparing me for that struggle through this place, these people that I interact with every single day. Many days I struggle, knowing that I still fall short in so many ways. But I now know, in a way that I never did in my early years at Baylor, that there’s grace through Jesus there when I do. I now know that God has a plan for my life and that His plan is so good.”

Lindsey knows that whatever is in his future, God’s unchanging grace awaits. Read Lindsey’s whole story in the Champions’ TriBUne archives.

While Lindsey has been learning to embrace life on the sidelines, his Baylor teammates have probably done enough this season to merit an NCAA Tournament berth, regardless of what happens the rest of the way. The Bears will finish out the regular season Saturday at Kansas before heading to the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, which runs from March 13-16.

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