"I've come a long way," said Vasquez, a point guard for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, and the same could be said for his team.
Seeded eighth in the Western Conference, the Grizzlies won their first playoff game and first playoff series in franchise history when they stunned No. 1-seeded San Antonio, winning four of six games. They advanced to the semifinals and hold a 2-1 series lead against Oklahoma City, led by NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant -- Vasquez' teammate at Montrose.
Vasquez was crucial in the Grizzlies' third win over the Spurs. Substituting for foul-laden starter Mike Conley, he scored seven points within a span of two minutes late in the first quarter and early in the second. He finished with nine points and two assists in the 104-86 victory.
While teammates were praising Vasquez for his gritty performance, he praised God.
"I think this is all God," Vasquez said. "We are probably not the most talented team in the NBA, but the best thing about this team is how we handle situations. The guys are so humble and hungry. We've got good chemistry. We play together, and that is what God is all about, keeping people together."
That wasn't the first time Vasquez pointed to God.
The only Atlantic Coast Conference player ever to score at least 2,000 points (2,171), have 750 assists (772) and 600 rebounds (647), Vasquez was the University of Maryland's second all-time leading scorer. He was the ACC Player of the Year in 2010 and Bob Cousy award winner as the nation's best point guard in 2010.
"I believe God did it all for me," said Vasquez, who became a Christian when he was 17 at Montrose, a ministry of Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Md.
Selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, Vasquez said his faith has grown stronger.
"I've got Jesus Christ in my heart," he said. "There are a lot of ups and downs.... God gives me the strength to do what I have to do. I put everything in His hands."
Vasquez said he seeks to show "how important God is to me by walking in faith."
"The way I act, the things I do, the way I make decisions, God is my inspiration.... Everything I have, I don't deserve but I'm thankful for it," Vasquez said. "He's done so much for me. All I want to do is praise Him. Everything I do is for Him."
Vasquez said he prays daily and with opposing Christian players on road trips. He also reads his Bible daily and has memorized his favorite Scripture passage, the eighth chapter of Romans. And he attends team Bible studies as well as the evangelical Life Church of Memphis.
"I want to give back to people and lead people to Christ," Vasquez said. "I'm proud of being a Christian. Jesus is my life."
Vasquez said he wants to be known as someone "who wants to do the right thing when nobody is watching," whether it's in the playoffs or not.
"Playoff time is the highest level of basketball in the world. God has put me in this league. God has a purpose for me. If God wants me to stay in the league for 10 years, He will help me with that. He understands what I want to do in life."
Bill Sorrell is pastor of First Baptist Church in Whiteville, Tenn.
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