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stephen copeland

The office in Steve Smith’s Charlotte, N.C., home could pass as a closet in the Sistine Chapel, the arched ceiling painted in a greenish hue, clouds bleeding onto the woodwork, angels appearing to descend from their universe, a biblical story in each corner. The front left corner is a painting of Eve leaning against Adam in the Garden of Eden, representing Smith’s renewed relationship with his wife, Angie. The back left corner is of the Good Samaritan, representing Smith’s heartbeat for Samaritan’s Feet, a ministry that provides shoes for millions around the world...

Coach Dave Bliss, I’m not sure when I started calling you “Coach.” It just kind of happened. I suppose it’s fitting since that’s what you are—from your assistant coaching days under Bob Knight at West Point and Indiana; to your head coaching days at Oklahoma, SMU, New Mexico and Baylor; and even now as the athletic director at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. You’re a coach. And you have 500 NCAA victories to prove it...

Carolina Panthers long-snapper JJ Jansen looked at me from across the table. He had an intense strain in his eyes. I noticed sweat forming on his nose. His leg started to shake, causing our coffees to rattle on the table as if there was a coming storm. I looked at him, confused. “Stephen,” he said, “I have something to tell you.” “Yes?” I said...

Mason Plumlee looks out over the floor at Duke University’s practice facility. It must be weird to be back—returning to campus, his home for the last four years; visiting Cameron Indoor, Duke’s 2010 national championship banner hanging in the rafters of its gymnasium that feels more like a cathedral, with its wooden steeple doors and castle-stone exterior; and sitting here in Duke’s practice facility where his new team, the Brooklyn Nets, are having training camp...

So much of life seems to be a search for life. Purpose and love and happiness seem to be buried somewhere in a far-off desert. Some find it. Some don’t. But all search...

Mason Plumlee looks out over the floor at Duke University’s practice facility. It must be weird to be back—returning to campus, his home for the last four years; visiting Cameron Indoor, Duke’s 2010 national championship banner hanging in the rafters of this gymnasium that feels more like a cathedral, with its wooden steeple doors and castle-stone exterior; and sitting here in Duke’s practice facility where his new team, the Brooklyn Nets, are having training camp...

As I write this, I see the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding the softball diamonds at the Botetourt Sports Complex in Roanoke, Va. I come here every Labor Day weekend for the Interstate Church of God Softball Tournament. I don’t come to play softball. I come to write. I come to gather stories. I come to Roanoke to believe...

My grandpa died a few weeks ago. It was sad and unexpected, but I’m thankful I was able to see him in Indiana the week before he died. I live in North Carolina. It was my first time in Indiana in five months. Five months. I couldn’t believe I got to see him. I think about stuff like this a lot, whether things are just a coincidence or if God has His hand in our lives, whether life is unfolding or if God is in control of all of it...

I know a basketball agent who went to the NBA All-Star game last year in Orlando. He was networking with some guys, hanging around after the game, and took a look around at his surroundings. He noticed a number of women hanging around after the game—a lot of women—and not just any women, women who wanted something. High heels. Short skirts. Tight shirts. Makeup-coated faces, like apples dipped in caramel...

"I have a strange question,” I said. “Okay,” replied Carolina Panther wide receiver Steve Smith, leaning back into the cushions of his living room sofa. Smith had just finished telling me about his visit to the Dominican Republic the week before, where he led a shoe distribution trip through Samaritan’s Feet, an organization that helps provide shoes to millions around the world who don’t have them. The unique thing about Samaritan’s Feet, I found, is that it takes a hands-on approach to their ministry, washing the feet...

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