Hoops For Christ | From Professional Basketball, To Behind Bars

06/06/2017 07:00 PM

“It’s everything that you would think it was as far as hearing the bars close and walking through the yard and its very rowdy when you walk into the gym. You know, sometimes its five, six hundred inmates,” Phillip Morrison said, as he explained the inside of a prison.

Former Cardinal basketball player Terrance Farley never thought he would end up behind bars; at least not this way.

“I played overseas for about eight years. I came back here and got involved with PRP, my alma mater, and after about three years- I loved it there, I wouldn’t take it back for anything in the world but I ended up being on my third year and I was in the gym and I was wanting something more- a little bit more of a purpose,” Farley explained.

That purpose came from Hoops for Christ, an organization founded by his high school teammate, Phillip Morrison.

“We wanted something different than just the camps and the clinics and the leagues we were doing in different churches and organizations and the idea came up about doing a prison game. So, we tried it out, did one game and absolutely loved it and the inmates really received us and were really asking for us to come back, so we put together a tour and we’ve been touring the last three months,” Morrison told Spectrum News.

The team is made up of former collegiate and professional basketball players with ties to Kentucky. They take on a team of prisoners and afterwards share a Bible study with the inmates.

“The biggest thing is, we know we’re planting seeds. You know, so we’re just basically using basketball as our platform to share the gospel…they always tell us ‘when you come in, it’s like our Super Bowl’, so they get really pumped up for it…so we know we’re making an impact and the main thing is basketball is a universal language. I’ve seen it all over the world and I see it in prisons and I see how it helps people connect,” Morrison added.

They each have a memory from inside the prison walls that stands out more than others.

“A painting that they painted for us…and it’s such a powerful message. Because with Hoops for Christ, which is obviously our symbol on our shirts, he painted that and he had Jesus’ hands sticking out of the jail cell, out of the facility and in it, it was a key. And basically what it was saying was Hoops For Christ had allowed them to be free of the prison even though they’re inside prison,” Farley explained.

“Actually one of the inmates was my college teammate when I went in…good guy, good kid but had got caught up in some things,” Morrison added. “Had some very unfortunate circumstances in his life and as soon as I walked in, I saw him. He came up and gave me a hug and we just started talking and playing against each other like old times.”

Despite both having successful professional careers overseas, Phillip and Terrance agree that playing ball behind bars is their greatest achievement yet.

“These are actually the greatest games I’ve played in my life. The only reason I say that, is because it’s for a true purpose. It’s for a true purpose to glorify God and it’s awesome because we get to make them feel like they’re not there,” Farley said.

“Matthew five, it says, ‘let your light shine before others, so when they see your good work, they would give glory to your Father in Heaven.’ So I look at it as my light is my talent with basketball and so I’m just trying to use that to point others to Christ,” Morrison added.

You can learn more about Hoops For Christ at: https://www.morrisonbasketball.com/hoops-for-christ

Watch the full story here:

Lyndsey Gough

Lyndsey is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News. You can catch Lyndsey’s work on Sports Night, the only nightly show dedicated to covering everything from high school to college sports in Kentucky. She loves covering all sports but it’s the personal stories that really stand out to Lyndsey, like the story of a community coming together to remember high school track start Trinity Gay who was killed. Lyndsey came to Spectrum News from WBKO in Bowling Green where she was an Anchor, Reporter and Producer covering news and sports. She’s a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of UK. Sports Night airs at 6:30 and 10:30 weeknights on Spectrum News. If you have a story idea for Lyndsey email her at Lyndsey.gough@charter.com.

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