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Fierce Love: A Memoir of Family, Faith and Purpose by Sonya Curry

Behind the two-time MVP, all-time three point leader and four-time NBA Champion Stephen Curry is a force to be reckoned with: his mom, Sonya. Basketball fans have seen Sonya Curry at many of her sons' games in the stands—clapping and shouting, hugging and crying. What they might not know about this beautiful mother, grandmother, daughter and teacher is that she too is a great athlete (played D1 volleyball at Virginia Tech), devout Christian, and an author. And, she might be someone worth turning to if you're looking for spiritual growth.

In his weekly email, one of my favorite Catholic writers Matthew Kelly wrote, "Prioritizing the right things can be a hard thing to do! So many aspects of life try to break us up into little bits, so it is critically important that we look at ourselves as a whole person on a daily basis. My challenge for you is to take an extra minute today to think about what you should prioritize. When is the last time you REALLY decided to make spiritual growth the #1 priority in your life? What do you have to lose? "

Do you agree? Is it difficult for you to prioritize the "right things?" How often do you think about what you should prioritize? Great questions. However, I would argue that athletes and coaches face these questions on a routine basis. The nature of "the game" or our game/sport demand no less. And yet for all parties, Where does spiritual growth land on your list of priorities. Is it not too valuable to leave at just another item to check off? Indeed that nature of that game is anything but ever complete.

Perhaps part of the challenge of making spiritual growth a priority, let alone the primary one, is that there's no one path....or maybe there are too many paths toward progress. I will speak for myself—I need a road map or recommendation. I do well with the basics—benchmarks, even bylaws. Fortunately, I found one in reading Sonya Curry's book: Fierce Love: A Memoir of Family, Faith and Purpose.

Watch the GMA interview here

My sense is that Sonya Curry intended to share her story. A 
path toward spiritual growth is most likely an byproduct of the book! But, I believe God is always working with us and through us. We, her readers, have a way. An example to use. A person to look to. A woman for whom many will compare and contrast. I can only encourage you to check it out for yourself and enjoy.  I did.

In case you're like me and in need for a few examples, consider the following.

  • When her children were young, they woke up at six in the morning for family devotion. This includes "reading a passage from the Bible, a new chapter each day." She writes: 
    • Of course, many mornings I realize that much of the time, they are all half asleep and want to be anywhere but here. Still, they do it. Not that they have a choice, but they do it. I stay focused, locked in. I am in playoff mode, wearing my game face. I truly believe that this ritual will have a long-lasting, maybe even a lifelong impact on my kids. I am completely committed to starting the day this way.

  • Once a week, the Currys host a family meeting. This was on Sundays, usually before they went back to church for the six o'clock evening service (they also went to a ten or eleven o'clock morning service as well as a Wednesday evening service. Sonya speaks authentically and powerfully of its importance.
    • In the same way, I have started parenting partly by relying on ritual and tradition. First and foremost, I believe that when you have children, you should take them to church. Teach them about God. It’s what you do. How I was brought up. But with my kids, I actually feel something deeper. I feel as if I am being drawn back to my roots. I don’t believe that it’s simply what I should do. I feel that God—going to church—is something more. It’s a pull. I want to go. It’s not just tradition. I want to make churchgoing an active focus of our lives. I want to establish going to church as part of our family’s routine.

      It’s beyond important. It’s a value I feel in my core. It’s how I want to raise my children. And so, every Sunday, I gather up Stephen and Seth, and we go. Sitting in church, flanked by my two boys, I feel the power and comfort of routine. I repeat the same action until it becomes habit.

      We rely on our rituals. I believe that. Then, after a short time, something subtle begins to happen. The ritual goes beyond a rote activity. I start to look forward to going. Sitting at the same spot every week. Greeting the same people. Reading and sharing the same prayers. Listening to the pastor’s sermon. All this has its own power. Soon I realize that this routine has become my survival. Going to church on Sunday offers a kind of sanity, a safe haven from the week. Something I can count on. A refuge. The routine becomes its own reward.

      In church, I look at Stephen and Seth, so young, so impressionable, and at this age, so squirmy. I smile at them and they smile back not knowing that I am training them, engulfing them in a sweet dose of spirituality that will last their lifetimes. At least I pray that it will. As I remember Proverbs 22: 6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

  • Sonya committed to not drinking alcohol while the children were still at home. Sonya writes, "I’m abstaining from alcohol now, but the day I drop her off at her dorm, I am coming home and pouring myself a huge glass of wine." I never thought that maybe kids should be concerned that their parents are having parties when THEY are not home. #ParentsCanRageToo

  • Sonya knows Scripture well, so well that I am not sure a single chapter is written without one passage or one reference that has meaning and relevance to her. I would love to ask her children about the prayer slips she left under their bed and in their rooms.

  • I pray with my feet. Sonya does too. She writes, 
    • I walk through our house at night. Sometimes I stop abruptly, drop to my knees, and pray. And sometimes I slow my walk so that I’m barely walking at all, and I talk to God. I talk to Him as I would a close and trusted friend.

  • I would be remiss if I didn't cite the powerful, honest and brave testimony that Sonya provided about the fact that Stephen Curry was even born. She shares going to Planned Parenthood with Dell and her decision not to go through another abortion. It is worth reading for yourself. As we know, the story doesn't end there. Steph's birth story brought me to tears—both happy tears and some funny ones (she thought he looked like E.T.).

  • Sonya Curry née Adams, grew up in Radford, VA—a member of the town's "first family of sports." She said "when I am eleven or twelve, my family—aunts, cousins and a few close friends—form an all-female sports team. It's no wonder she extends the analogy of sports to parenting. 
    • Maybe the idea of sports has become ingrained too deeply within my heart and soul, but before I get out of bed, I put on a game face. I prepare to bring it. To be a parent—in my opinion, to parent well—you have to bring your “A” game. Parenting is strenuous. Draining. Exhausting mentally and physically.I find it similar to playing a sport at a high level.

      I approach parenting the same way I did when I played volleyball in college and the same way I see Dell approaching professional basketball. You always have to think next play. It’s a term that athletes use. You’ve got to have a short memory. In the flow of a basketball game, you’ll inevitably make a bad play—you’ll miss a shot, throw an errant pass, turn the ball over, commit a dumb foul. You will make a mistake. It happens. Part of the game. You cannot dwell on that mistake. You have to correct in the moment, adjust on the fly, change your attitude and your mindset instantaneously. In basketball and in parenting, things happen. Surprises. The unexpected. And those moments that don’t turn out the way you planned or hoped for or even envisioned—those mistakes—influence other human beings. Your teammates.
Preach, Sister Sonya. Preach.
Although her path toward spiritual growth is different than mine, I was nothing short of inspired and intrigued by this woman. I am not a parent, but I admire she "had the courage to parent" and believe she offers grounded and impressive examples of how she did that and the effects—good and bad that came with it. I will admit, I concluded this book by believing Steph Curry IS as special, loving and charismatic as he appears to be. That's not just his doing—his parents and their commitment to their Christian faith are part of the equation. I read "Fierce Love" because I'm a fan of her son, but now I can't help but cheer for her and the success of this chapter of her life. Thank you, Sonya. I hope to meet you someday, soon.

Photo Credits
Book Cover
Interview on GMA
Sonya and Steph
Young Kids




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