Kansas basketball has to be as close to the big time as you can get in college basketball. Sellouts every game, major notoriety across the country and with success comes the good and the bad. Over the last few years Wayne Simien has rejoined the Kansas basketball family so to speak. Really he's rejoined the Kansas University family as a whole, but as fans we've come to understand where his beliefs lie and whether you agree with them or not it's hard to deny the fact that he is playing a positive role for the University.
Wayne's story is an interesting one and it's one that played out just as much off the court and behind the scenes as it did on the court. For most fans, we go to know him as a great player. Only in recent years have we started to understand how his life was changed in Lawrence and why he's chosen to do what he now does.
The recent excerpt from Jason King's book "Beyond the Phog" provides the latest glimpse into that world.
I was in a bar, and a drunk guy walked up and said, "Man, I wish I had your life." When he said that, I felt like I'd been punched in the face. It may have looked like my life was great with wins and Final Fours and NBA draft projections and stuff. But he didn't know that, inside, I was a wreck. I left the bar, went back to the Towers and cried myself to sleep that night.
I thought that was an interesting excerpt because I was at the University when Wayne Simien was playing and he just always seemed like the person he presents himself as today. He never came across as someone who was struggling with the "college scene" or someone who was a wreck. It's interesting because even though Simien had EVERYTHING together on the court, he was lost off the court.
After a brief stint in the NBA Simien returned to Kansas where he now runs a charity "Called to Greatness". The group is a non-profit organization that states it's mission as reaching and equipping students for Christ to serve as leaders on the campus and in the world through church-based campus ministries.
I don't want to get preachy and I don't think you have to necessarily share these beliefs to understand that this group is having a positive impact in the community on some level and I think that's a great thing. If you've been to a Kansas sporting event or a University event in recent years you've probably seen "Big" Wayne roaming about. He's involved, he's active and he's trying to help and I find it to be a pretty unique situation where an athletes life away from the court has inspired him to take a different path and give back.
To see the rest of the Buick Human Highlight Reel, go to www.NCAA.com/Buick.