How Many NBA Players Are Jehovah Witnesses

Professional basketball, the NBA boasts a diverse roster of players, each with their unique background, culture, and beliefs. Among the various faiths represented in the league. One stands out for its relatively small but impactful presence—the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Let’s explore how the teachings of Jehovah witnesses have influenced the lives and careers of some NBA players.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in the NBA:

While the number of Jehovah’s Witness NBA players may not be extensive, their impact is noteworthy. Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for their distinctive beliefs, including their refusal to salute the flag. They also don’t participate in military service, or celebrate holidays and birthdays. These convictions set them apart, and a handful of NBA players have chosen to embrace this faith.

Kendrick Perkins:

A veteran center in the NBA, Kendrick Perkins has been outspoken about his faith as a Jehovah’s Witness. His commitment to his beliefs has been a guiding force throughout his career, influencing how he navigates various aspects of professional basketball.

Prince Fielder (Former MLB Player):

While not an NBA player, Prince Fielder, a former Major League Baseball (MLB) star, deserves mention for being a prominent athlete associated with the Jehovah’s Witness faith. His story sheds light on how the principles of Jehovah witnesses can shape an athlete’s career and personal life.

Markieff Morris:

Markieff Morris, a skilled power forward, has also identified as a Jehovah’s Witness. His dedication to his faith has been evident in his public statements and actions, showcasing how one can integrate religious beliefs into the demanding lifestyle of a professional athlete.

Slick Watts:

Although he played in the NBA during the 1970s, Slick Watts remains a significant figure among Jehovah’s Witness athletes. Watts, a charismatic and energetic point guard, played for the Seattle SuperSonics and later embraced the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. His story reflects the enduring presence of this faith in the league and the diverse paths players can take in their spiritual journeys.

Derrick Favors:

A talented power forward/center, Derrick Favors has openly identified as a Jehovah’s Witness. His journey in the NBA showcases the interplay between personal faith and professional success for Jehovah witnesses.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist:

Former NBA player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, known for his time with the Charlotte Hornets, has been reported to be a Jehovah’s Witness. His commitment to the faith has influenced both his personal and professional life.

Trey Burke:

Trey Burke, a point guard in the NBA, has been associated with the Jehovah’s Witness faith. His experiences in the league provide insights into how athletes navigate their beliefs while pursuing a successful career.

Derrick Favors:

Derrick Favors, a talented power forward/center in the NBA, is another player who has identified as a Jehovah’s Witness. His journey within the league reflects the challenges and triumphs that come with balancing professional basketball commitments and deeply held religious beliefs. Favors’ story further highlights the diversity of experiences among Jehovah’s Witness athletes.

The Balancing Act:

Being a Jehovah’s Witness in the NBA involves a delicate balancing act between personal convictions and professional responsibilities. Players often face decisions about how to navigate team rituals, national anthems, and celebrations that may conflict with their faith. The ability of these athletes to stay true to their beliefs while maintaining team cohesion exemplifies the resilience and determination found within the Jehovah’s Witness community.

Public Perception and Misconceptions:

Jehovah’s Witness NBA players occasionally face public scrutiny due to misconceptions about their beliefs. It is crucial for fans and media alike to approach discussions about an athlete’s faith with an open mind and a willingness to understand the nuances of their convictions. Clear communication and education can help dispel myths and foster a more respectful discourse around religion in professional sports.

Influences on Career Choices:

The faith of Jehovah witnesses often plays a role in shaping career choices beyond the basketball court. Some players may prioritize community outreach, charity work, or involvement in faith-based initiatives. Understanding the motivations behind these decisions provides a deeper appreciation for the impact that personal beliefs, such as those of Jehovah witnesses, can have on an athlete’s career trajectory.

The Impact on Team Dynamics:

Embracing the tenets of Jehovah’s Witnesses can significantly impact team dynamics. Players adhering to this faith often emphasize values such as integrity, discipline, and respect, which can contribute positively to the team environment. Understanding and appreciating these influences can foster a sense of camaraderie among teammates, creating a unique blend of diversity within the team.

Community Outreach and Activism:

Many Jehovah’s Witness NBA players engage in community outreach and activism, leveraging their platform to promote social change in alignment with their faith-based principles. This extends beyond the basketball court, showcasing how athletes can be influential advocates for positive transformation within society.

Resilience in the Face of Adversity:

The decision to openly express one’s faith, particularly one with unique practices and beliefs like Jehovah’s Witnesses, requires a level of resilience. NBA players adhering to this faith demonstrate a commitment to their principles despite potential challenges or criticism. Their ability to stay true to their convictions amid the pressures of professional sports serves as a testament to their strength of character.

Mentorship and Role Modeling:

Jehovah’s Witness NBA players often take on mentorship roles within their teams, providing guidance and leadership based on their religious principles. This extends to their influence on younger players, contributing to the development of a new generation of athletes who value not only excellence on the court but also integrity and moral principles off the court.

Team Support and Inclusivity:

The NBA, known for its emphasis on inclusivity and diversity, has generally been supportive of players expressing their religious beliefs, including those who identify as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Teams often work to create an environment where players feel respected and supported in their personal choices, fostering a sense of unity among teammates with diverse backgrounds and faiths.

Personal Growth and Evolution:

Over time, some Jehovah’s Witness NBA players undergo personal growth and evolution in their faith. Publicly sharing these journeys helps break down stereotypes and provides insight into the dynamic nature of spirituality within the professional sports realm. Such openness encourages dialogue around the intersections of faith, identity, and personal development.

Post-Retirement Influence:

The impact of Jehovah’s Witness NBA players extends beyond their active playing careers. Many continue to be influential figures in their communities, leveraging their experiences, networks, and personal growth to make a positive impact post-retirement. This enduring influence highlights the lasting contributions these athletes can make both within and outside the realm of professional sports.

Faith and Mental Resilience:

Embracing the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses can contribute to mental resilience, helping players navigate the highs and lows of their careers. The faith often emphasizes coping mechanisms, such as prayer and community support, which can be valuable tools for athletes facing the intense pressure and scrutiny that come with playing at the highest level.

Cultural Impact:

The presence of Jehovah’s Witness NBA players contributes to the cultural diversity of the league. Their unique perspectives and practices, as Jehovah witnesses, enrich the overall narrative of professional basketball, showcasing the multitude of backgrounds and belief systems that coexist within the global sports community.

Challenges and Benefits:

Being a Jehovah’s Witness in the NBA comes with both challenges and benefits. On the one hand, the refusal to participate in certain rituals or events can lead to misunderstandings or scrutiny from the public and teammates. On the other hand, the faith provides a strong moral foundation, discipline, and a sense of purpose that can positively impact an athlete’s mental and emotional well-being.

Family and Community Support:

Jehovah’s Witness NBA players often find strength in the support of their families and communities. The tight-knit nature of Jehovah’s Witness congregations provides a sense of belonging and encouragement. Players, such as Kendrick Perkins and Markieff Morris, frequently credit their faith communities for helping them navigate the demands of professional basketball while staying true to their beliefs. This support network becomes a crucial aspect of their overall resilience and success in the league.

Navigating NBA Traditions:

The NBA is rich with traditions, including pre-game rituals, team celebrations, and interactions with fans. Jehovah’s Witness players face the challenge of balancing these traditions with their religious convictions. The decision to abstain from certain activities, like standing for the national anthem or participating in holiday festivities, requires careful consideration. How players navigate these situations not only reflects their commitment to their faith but also contributes to shaping a more inclusive understanding of diversity within the league.

Educational Initiatives:

Some Jehovah’s Witness NBA players actively engage in educational initiatives to raise awareness about their faith and dispel misconceptions. Whether through social media, interviews, or community events, these athletes take the opportunity to share insights into their beliefs and practices. This educational outreach not only fosters a deeper understanding among fans but also promotes tolerance and respect for diverse perspectives within the NBA community.

Faith and Performance:

The impact of faith on performance is a topic of interest for many sports enthusiasts. Jehovah’s Witness NBA players often attribute their mental and emotional well-being to their faith, emphasizing the role it plays in maintaining focus, discipline, and a positive mindset on and off the court. Understanding the interplay between religious beliefs and athletic performance provides a nuanced perspective on the factors influencing player success.

Global Reach of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the NBA:

The influence of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the NBA extends beyond American borders. As the league continues to attract international talent, players from different countries bring their unique backgrounds and faith perspectives. Exploring how Jehovah’s Witnesses from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds integrate their beliefs into the NBA landscape contributes to a broader understanding of the global impact of faith in professional sports.

Collaboration with Teams:

NBA teams actively collaborate with players to accommodate their religious practices and create an inclusive environment. This collaboration involves respectful communication between players, coaching staff, and team management to address any conflicts that may arise. Highlighting instances of successful collaboration can serve as a blueprint for fostering religious inclusivity within professional sports organizations.

Trailblazers and Pioneers:

Jehovah’s Witness NBA players are trailblazers, breaking stereotypes and paving the way for future athletes who may share their faith. By openly expressing their beliefs, these players contribute to the diversification of narratives within professional sports. Their stories serve as an inspiration for young athletes who may be grappling with how to balance their faith with a career in the highly competitive world of the NBA.

Media Representation and Storytelling:

Media plays a crucial role in shaping public perceptions of Jehovah’s Witness NBA players. Responsible storytelling that goes beyond stereotypes and sensationalism is essential for fostering understanding. Highlighting the personal stories, struggles, and triumphs of these athletes through documentaries, interviews, and features can contribute to a more nuanced and respectful portrayal of Jehovah’s Witnesses in professional basketball.

Future Perspectives:

As the NBA continues to evolve, the role of Jehovah’s Witnesses within the league may also undergo changes. Exploring how new generations of players approach their faith and navigate the evolving landscape of professional basketball provides insights into the ongoing intersection of religion and sports. The continuous dialogue around diversity, inclusion, and religious freedom ensures that the NBA remains a space where athletes of all faiths feel valued and respected.


The stories of Jehovah’s Witness NBA players add depth and dimension to the narrative of professional basketball. As we appreciate the athleticism and skill displayed on the court. It is equally important to recognize the personal journeys, challenges, and growth that players undergo, especially in the context of their faith as Jehovah witnesses. By acknowledging and celebrating this diversity. The NBA continues to be a melting pot of cultures, beliefs, and experiences. It creates a more inclusive and supportive environment for all its athletes.