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Danny Ainge speaks about career, Mormon faith

WORCESTER, Massachusetts — The opportunity to hear Boston Celtics president and general manager Danny Ainge talk about his road to the NBA was enough to attract nearly 300 residents into a chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a recent Sunday evening.

And one of those visitors provided a pleasant surprise.

Ainge was interviewed by longtime sports broadcaster Mike Dowling as part of a new speaker series designed to bring more exposure to the church in central Massachusetts. They discussed everything from how Ainge was able to uphold his standards while playing professional basketball and baseball to Ainge's thoughts about the current state of the Celtics.

Ainge said that the peer pressure he experienced while playing baseball was stronger than what he felt while playing basketball. He credited a number of baseball teammates who were Latter-day Saints for their great example and mentioned one specifically. Louis Gomez was a Toronto Blue Jays shortstop with five children and someone Ainge said he always looked up to, and one of Gomez's sons happened to be at the event and introduced himself to Ainge after the program.

Ainge, who played 14 years in the NBA after being named the college player of the year at Brigham Young University, also addressed the professional challenges he now faces in his present job with a young Celtics team. He assured local Celtics fans that he is not actively trying to trade his best player Rajon Rondo. Ainge said that he really likes his young team and has high hopes of improvement from last year's non-playoff season.

Sunday night's hour-long Q-and-A session, which was opened and closed with a prayer, also featured an inspirational song performed by professional singer and church member Dallyn Vail Bayles. Boston Massachusetts Stake President Kevin Rollins called the event a big success and looks forward to more such opportunities to promote the church in this area.

The event was chronicled in an article published by the Worcester Telegraph and Gazette.

Beth Van Duzer represents Boston Stake Public Affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.