Pistol Pete Maravich

Pete Maravich

Honored to Testify at the Billy Graham Crusade

Two weeks ago my Dad passed away on April 15, 1987. We had a very unique relationship. My Dad was my best friend, teacher, mentor, and coach.

The reason I am standing here tonight is because I have the joy of Jesus Christ in my heart. I remember my Dad saying to me, “Pete, if you listen to me and work hard, you can get a basketball scholarship.  Maybe you will even go to the pros, and play on a championship team. You will make a million dollars playing basketball. They will give you a big diamond ring, and you will have your name on it and it will say, “World Champion.”

As a seven-year old boy, my eyes lit up and I said, “Dad that is what I want.” Dad said, “If you let me teach you, and you dedicate yourself to basketball, that is all you have to do.” And that is what I did. I became a human basketball android.

I believed in God when I was a young boy, but to me God was like a heavenly Santa Claus.  God was someone that would give me things, or when I was in trouble get me out of it. I didn’t care about a personal relationship with God. I was committed to basketball, and basketball was my idol.

When I was fourteen and one-half years old, we lived in Clemson, SC. A friend of mine said, “Pete, have you ever had a beer?” I said, “No I haven’t, and I don’t care to have one because my Dad said, “If I ever drank one, he would shoot me.” I said, “I don’t want to die just yet because I want to play pro-basketball.” He kept on and on. Today they call this peer pressure. I said, “Okay.” We went and sat on the steps of the Methodist Church at 9:30 PM on a Sunday night. I remember pop-opening the can, and I remember smelling it. My friend said, “Doesn’t that smell good?” I said, “Yes it does.” I have to tell you young people to night and anyone else in the audience, that this is drug problem. That first sip nearly destroyed my life, and the only reason I am standing here tonight is due to the grace and mercy of God. But I do know this. Peer pressure is a choice. There was never a gun pointed at me to drink alcohol. It became a toehold that became a stronghold.

When I was nineteen years old, I went to a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting to put on a show time clinic.  I didn’t know anything else but to do my thing. For three days, I heard who Jesus Christ was, and for three days I rejected Him. On the third day Mr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, gave a message like Dr. Graham. Many people came forward, and my friend was just like me. We partied all the way out. We had a good time. We had all the pleasure we wanted. I said, “You can’t fall for this.” They are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. I don’t want anything to do with this because I had set my goals. I didn’t have time for Christ, and I went back out in the wilderness for sixteen years.

I did everything I wanted. I became an All-American Basketball player while playing for my Dad at LSU. I got all the trophies and awards. I was on the cover of sports magazines. I had a trophy six foot five and a quarter inches tall, the same height as I am. It has been in the attic for fifteen years collecting dust.

I signed the largest contract in sports for one million dollars in 1970. I went to my dad and said, “I hope you’re proud of me. All I need now is the ring, and when I get my ring. I will be able to sit by the pool and wiggle my toes in the water and sit back with my drink and live happily ever after.” That was what I thought, but it didn’t turn out that way.

On a November night in 1982, while Jackie and the boys slept upstairs, I sat in my den staring at the television. Around midnight I turned off the set and quietly slipped into bed. I pondered the impact of alcohol had on my life and family. For hours and hours I lay awake, tortured by my memories. Then I had a revelation. I saw all my sin. I then heard a voice. “BE STRONG. LIFT THINE OWN HEART.” The words were delivered “loud as thunder.” Having experienced a transcendental moment, I prayed for salvation. “With tears in my eyes I said, “Jesus, I know You are real because I’ve tried everything else. When I took God into my heart, it was the first true happiness I ever had.

I want you to know about Peter Maravich. You may have never heard of me, but it makes no difference. I am just one person on this earth saved through the grace of God by Jesus Christ. I won every trophy and award in my life, and I always wanted more. It wasn’t money because money won’t buy happiness. It wasn’t material things that many of you are striving for. I drove Rolls Royces, BMWs, Mercedes, and Porches. It wasn’t religion. It was because of religion that Jesus Christ was placed on the cross. The thing about Christianity is that it is your choice. You can’t work or earn it, and I knew this. I understand it now.

And the last thing I would like to say is this, “Next week I will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. I will get that big diamond ring; in fact it will be bigger than the championship ring. But I will tell you something, all the awards are all pale to the glory of God, and what He has done in my life. I wouldn’t trade my position in Christ for a thousand Hall of Fame rings or a hundred million dollars. There is nothing like the joy of Jesus Christ in my life.

Pictures of Pistol Pete Maravich:

Pistol Pete Maravich telling his story at a Billy Graham Crusade in 1987.

Pistol Pete Maravich Hearing His Voice Printout  

Print both sides in color using landscape and fold.