Before Judah Smith wanted to be a pastor, he wanted to play basketball in the NBA. Yet after seeing Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady play once in person, Smith decided to quit basketball, and start working at his father’s church.
When Judah Smith was in high school his basketball team at Issaquah Highschool, outside of Seattle, he was invited to participate in a showcase in Las Vegas.
It was Smith’s senior year, and he was excited about his future in basketball, that was until he saw Tracy McGrady play.
“I got to play in front of Coach K and Roy Williams,” Smith said in a podcast episode with Sports Spectrum, “but … when I saw Tracy McGrady play, it is literally when I decided to stop playing basketball. And that is an actual fact. My dad can confirm that.”
“I saw him play and I thought, ‘I am wasting my time. It is time for me to study my Bible and become a janitor at my dad’s church.’ So that’s what I did.”
Smith has McGrady to thank for showing him that day that he would never be the player McGrady was, and that he had a different career path coming his way.
Smith might not have known the megachurch pastor that he would turn into, but he knew enough to know he wouldn’t be the NBA Hall of Famer material like McGrady.
Smith, who pastors Church Home, a megachurch out of Seattle, is a seventh generation preacher. In 1992, his dad Wendell Smith started City Church in Seattle, which Judah eventually took over in 2009, and later changed the name to Church Home.
Tracy McGrady, meanwhile, was named a McDonald’s All-American in 1997 and skipped college all-together when he was drafted into the NBA by Toronto.
McGrady might not even know it, but his greatness on the court affected people in ways, in some he might not expect.
Thanks to McGrady’s basketball skills, Judah Smith stayed away from the court, and instead put all his efforts into his father’s church, which would eventually become his to pastor.
You can find Judah Smith’s sermons here.