Summer 2024

Guard Jrue Holiday is 'making Christ a priority' as he guides Celtics in NBA Finals

In a perfect complement to the strengths of superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics veteran guard Jrue Holiday has provided just what was needed this season to help the team advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in the last three years.

There, Holiday and the Celtics will meet the Western Conference champions, the Dallas Mavericks.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

The soon-to-be 34-year-old (his birthday is June 12) started all 69 games he played in this regular season, averaging 12.5 points, a career-high 5.4 rebounds and a career-low 1.8 turnovers per game, all while shooting a career-best 42.9% from the 3-point line.

In addition to his offensive production, Holiday continued to prove he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA by being selected to the All-Defensive second team. Aside from a COVID-disrupted 2019-20 season, Holiday has earned a spot on either the first or second All-Defensive team each season since 2017-18.

These 2024 NBA Finals will be Holiday’s second experience on the biggest stage in the sport; the two-time All-Star (2012-13, 2022-23) was a crucial piece in helping the Milwaukee Bucks capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2020-21, and he’s determined to help the Celtics win what would be a record 18th NBA title.

“Getting to the peak, or the pinnacle, and either falling short or making it over, it’s kind of this rush that you want to get back and do it again,” Holiday said in a press conference after sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. “I don’t think [my teammates] need motivation from me. I think it’s about going out there and executing, locking in to what we have to do as early as possible, and going out there and playing together and having fun.”

Holiday, along with center Al Horford, have provided veteran leadership all season for a Celtics team that won an impressive 64 games during the regular season, a league best this year and the fourth-most wins in the storied history of the franchise. The team has only dropped two games thus far in the playoffs.

Yet even as Celtics players have turned to Holiday for guidance this season, Holiday has turned to his Heavenly Father for guidance throughout his basketball career.

He’s deflected praise to God in postgame interviews and honored Him in press conferences. He’s given back from his lucrative NBA career in efforts to improve his community. He even appeared on the Sports Spectrum Podcast back in January 2018.

On the podcast, Holiday explained that he grew up in Los Angeles with two brothers (both of whom, Aaron and Justin, also play in the NBA), a sister, and faithful parents who took him to church and sought to point him toward Christ. However, it wasn’t until after Holiday’s one season at UCLA, as a rookie with the Philadelphia 76ers, that God truly began working in Holiday’s heart to draw him to Himself.

“I had to make, kind of, my own decisions and be able to kind of fend for myself,” he said on the podcast. “… Obviously, before that, I believed and everything, and I wouldn’t necessarily say that I didn’t have any struggles, but I do feel like it was … pretty easy.”

Holiday, who has been known to play with “What Would Jesus Do” wristbands, also posts about his faith on his Instagram account. His bio reads, “We most bear resemblance to Christ, when we bear another’s burden,” which is a reference to the Bible verse Galatians 6:2.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jrue Holiday (@jrue_holiday11)

“Making Christ a priority is huge, because without Him, I wouldn’t be here. None of us would,” Holiday said three years ago in an interview with Rusty George, the lead pastor of Real Life Church in California.

Perhaps never has Holiday felt his need for Christ so viscerally than when his wife, Lauren, a World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist with the U.S. women’s soccer team, was diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant with the couple’s first child in 2016. Jrue and Lauren committed to praying like they never had before, and they grew deeper in their relationship with God even in the midst of the trial.

“I think for her and me that was definitely a pivotal moment because that was something — it brought us closer together getting closer to God,” Jrue said in the Spring 2018 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine. He added, “I would say [our relationship with God] changed because I started to reach more towards Him. … I felt like a lot of times when something bad happens, that’s where you can start to seek God more.

“Again, some people veer away from Him, but at that point I felt like because my wife and myself are both believers, we [prayed] together and that’s something that we could just do together. We just pray together every night before we go to sleep. Pray for our daughter, pray for her health.”

Lauren’s tumor wound up being benign, and the pair welcomed their daughter, Jrue Tyler (J.T.), into the world in the fall of 2016.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jrue Holiday (@jrue_holiday11)

Only weeks later, Lauren had her tumor successfully removed, and the couple has since had a second child, Hendrix, in 2020.

“I believe in a God that loves me and gave me a second chance at life,” Holiday told after being named to the All-Star team in 2023. “He’s always going to love me through my sins and wrongdoings. I definitely have faith.”

Holiday will seek to lean on that faith in Christ as his Celtics teammates lean on his veteran leadership in this year’s NBA Finals. Game 1 is set for Thursday in Boston at 8:30 p.m. ET.

>> Do you know Christ personally? Learn how you can commit your life to Him. <<

All-Star Jrue Holiday believes ‘in a God that loves me’ as he matches career high
Jrue Holiday helps lead Milwaukee to NBA championship: ‘This is only God’
Coach Joe Mazzulla leads Celtics back to NBA Finals, says it’s ‘where God has us’
Celtics’ Al Horford provides veteran leadership as he lives by ‘faith in Jesus Christ’
Mavs’ P.J. Washington trusts God ahead of Finals: ‘He’s done so much for me’