Fans of the television program Britain's Got Talent may remember Paul Potts, an undistinguished, unprepossessing mobile phone salesman whose audition before a skeptical panel of judges launched an unlikely ascent to singing stardom. In January of this year, Jeremy Lin burst onto the NBA scene with seven magical games that made him the closest thing professional athletics has ever had to a Paul Potts story. Lin is an unlikely basketball superstar: The son of Taiwanese immigrants who work in computer science and engineering, a graduate of California's public schools (most future athletic stars end up at one of the state's elite private schools that function as de facto training academies for athletes), and then four years of college hoops at Harvard … hardly the pedigree of an elite NBA point guard.
Lin doesn't necessarily look the part either—he went from "undersized" to "gangly" without stopping in between. Even when he began to enjoy some success with the NBA's New York Knicks, sports analysts were incredulous. TNT's Shaquille O'Neal said his was a classic case of player meets system: "Mike D'Antoni's offense is designed for guys who can't jump," sniffed O'Neal at the start of Lin's magical two week run.
But there is another unique dimension to Lin (who was being pursued by the Houston Rockets this week but will apparently remain a starting point guard for the Knicks): He is a fairly outspoken evangelical Christian. Raised in the Chinese Christian church and actively involved in a number of collegiate ministries, Lin's childhood in many ways resembled the Platonic ideal of evangelical adolescence: raised in the church (check), involved in youth group (check), volunteered with at-risk youth (check), organized ...1
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