Basketball and Ihop: How a Meeting with My Sports Idol Taught Me How to Live

By Devon Kemp

I consider myself one of the lucky ones – I grew up with a brother who taught me how to shoot a hoop, a dad who taught me how to catch a pass, and a mom who encouraged me to join the golf team instead of becoming a cheerleader like the rest of the girls. To say that the Kemp family is a sports family would be a huge understatement. I grew up on John Elway, Mike Shanahan, and the Broncos in their prime. I attended Todd Helton’s first (and last, as you could probably guess) game as the Colorado Rockies’ iconic first baseman. And, at the age of 6, I was fortunate to meet one of the best basketball players to every play the game – David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs.

It happened in a San Antonio Ihop. As my family and I were enjoying our stacks of pancakes, my brother looked over and saw him sitting in a booth just a row away from us reading his Bible.

David Robinson.

In an Ihop.

Reading his Bible.


Even at the ripe age of 6 I knew the magnitude of this moment. I mean, at the time, he was “the really, really, really tall guy who’s good at basketball”. But, still. I knew. My brother was the brave one who approached him, and as he did, Mr. Robinson looked up and smiled. He asked my brother to sit down, tell him his name, and the name of his family. Then he signed the paper my brother carried over, shook my brother’s hand, and went back to his Bible and coffee. I didn’t know it then, but that moment with one of the greatest basketball players ever would stick with me even until now.

I would love to model my basketball play after David Robinson. To be able rebound, block, and score like that would be stellar. But I would also love to model my life after him too. To be so humble and welcoming would be… well, it would be exactly what we are called to do. David Robinson didn’t ignore my brother, get annoyed, or act like he was better than us. He opened his arms, and greeted my brother with a smile.

Growing up in a sports family obviously led me to call many athletes my role model. And, for a while, I thought that they were my role models because they showed me how to swing a bat correctly, or how to throw a football. But, in reality, our role models are the ones who teach us how to treat one another, and live life with gratitude, grace, and humility.

So, if it comes down to emulating David Robinson in my rebounding, or my ability to be with people, I think I’ll choose the latter.


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