News Release

NBL Player Stands Tall

At 204cm, Gary Wilkinson, a New Zealand Breakers basketball player in the Australian National Basketball League, stands tall both on and off the basketball court. Recently, Wilkinson took time out of his busy schedule to speak to families at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at a multi-stake (diocese) fireside in Adelaide. He candidly told his life story and many of those in attendance later said that they were inspired.

"You never know what you are able to accomplish," Wilkinson said.

Twenty -year-old Wilkinson is a late-comer to professional basketball. He headed down the wrong path and dropped out of high school as a teen. A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Wilkinson re-examined his direction in life after his parents divorced and a friend died a tragic death. At the age of 18, Gary listened to the Mormon missionary discussions, received a personal witness of the Church's truthfulness and was baptised.

Brother Wilkinson said he came to realise that "a life contrary to truth is a life of unhappiness." Happiness, he found, was only sourced in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The road ahead wasn't easy for Wilkinson. However, he was committed to the new truth he had found, distanced himself from bad influences and set goals for his future. He counselled, "It is not important to have all Mormon friends. It is important to choose good friends with similar goals and values."

Brother Wilkinson's first goal after joining the Church was to serve a mission in Calgary, Alberta. This mission taught Gary how to work hard.

After returning home from his mission, Gary was determined to go to university. With little money, he obtained his high school diploma and ended as captain of the basketball team for Utah State University. He was named "All American", the honour given to the top college players in the nation. He also received the prestigious Stan Bates Award for academic achievement.

Since university, Wilkinson has played professional basketball in Korea and Greece and is now making an impact in the Australian National Basketball League which includes a team from New Zealand, the NZ Breakers. Following a career in basketball, Gary intends to pursue a law degree. He and his wife are expecting their first child soon.

Wilkinson readily attributes the blessings of his marriage, completion of university and success on the basketball court to setting the goal to serve a faithful mission for the Church. In paralleling the lessons he has learned on the basketball court to success in life as a Latter-day Saint, Gary concluded, "Don't be afraid to fail. Work as hard as you can to achieve your goals. Set lofty goals and see what the Lord can do for you in life. The Gospel is life. By applying the Lord's teachings and keeping gospel principles in mind, we are able to achieve our goals. God wants us to be successful."

Note: The following night, Brother Wilkinson led the Breakers to a 90-85 victory against the Adelaide 36ers with personal high of 27 points and 9 rebounds.


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