Fourth and final installment of my interview with Billy Rieser.
Give us an update on how things are going for you these days?
I am living in California, 45 minutes north of Los Angeles. Nothing about my life today is boring. I am so blessed that I live a “regret free” life today not bound by my past mistakes and misfortunes.
I am free from disappointments, shame, guilt, fear, anger, drugs, people pleasing, worry, anxiety, and pride…the engine that fuels and leads to all those character defects.
I love sharing my story with ballplayers and giving them inspiration and hope!
We are grandparents to a wonderful grandson who turned one in July. Coach Calipari has his eye on him for the UK 2030 basketball team.
We now live our lives to give back as much as we have been given. I love to give back the hope I now have; the lessons I have learned throughout the years about priorities, forgiveness, and yes basketball.
I love talking hoops and sharing with fellow basketball lovers. I actually love all sports. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to speak to the Minnesota Vikings football team.
I remember sharing my story with them and telling them that the peace I now have is worth more than all their contracts combined. I am no longer “White Jesus.” I am just a broken man who let Jesus heal and change me.
By the way, I almost forgot; how did you get the nickname, “White Jesus?”
I was adored by the black and Puerto Rican community and I loved them back. The Italian Mob guys that lived in my neighborhood never liked me because I was a half-breed (half Italian half German). I was never really accepted by my own community. As a result of basketball I was able to hang out in neighborhoods like the West Side of Harlem. People would say, “I could perform miracles with a basketball.” So they gave me the nickname “White Jesus.”
The name had nothing to do with God. But I thought I was God. I was not humble enough to let God lead my life. Little did I know God would enter my life later on in life.
Something worth mentioning about Bill is back in 2004-05 he was the Team Chaplin for head coach Travis Ford at Eastern Kentucky. Bill helped mentor the players on and off the court.
“It was ironic that I was sitting on the bench that I hated to sit on as a player but now it was an honor to sit an entire game,” Rieser said.
Check out Bill’s book, “Vertical Leap.”
Here is the link to order the book.