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25 years after walking away from NBA, Miss. pastor to be inducted into SWAC Hall of Fame

25 years after walking away from NBA, Miss. pastor to be inducted into SWAC Hall of Fame
25 years after walking away from NBA, Miss. pastor to be inducted into SWAC Hall of Fame(WLBT)
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 4:02 PM CDT
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CARTHAGE, Miss. (WLBT) - Preacher. Basketballer. It’s a rare combination, but the real-life story of Carthage Pastor Marcus Mann.

He’s one of two Mississippians to be inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.

“We look forward to honoring you,” SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland said in a letter to Mann.

“It feels good,” Mann said. ”I feel humbled.”

So why would anyone want to walk away from the National Basketball Association? It’s a goal more kids dream than achieve.

“It’s a story of obedience and faith,” Mann said.

The story begins in the summer of 1996, the same year basketball legends like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash were drafted.

A young Marcus Mann from Mississippi Valley State University was also handpicked by Golden State Warriors in the second round of the NBA draft.

Graduating with a 3.8 GPA, Mann averaged 21 points per game and led the nation in rebounds.

“I flew to Oakland [California] and signed the contract,” he said.

The guaranteed rookie minimum salary of $220,000 would hit Mann’s bank account when the Warriors kicked off their 51st season on Nov. 1, 1996, at San Jose Arena against the Los Angeles Clippers.

He’d made it - but something wasn’t right.

“I couldn’t shake this feeling,” Mann described. “I kept going to practice but I felt the love of the game leaving. I wrestled with it for several days and I knew God was leading me in a different direction.”

He changed his mind, drastically altering his course, opting out of sports and into ministry.

“From that day until this, I have no regrets... none whatsoever,” Mann said.

Mann said he’s enjoyed raising his daughter and full-time ministry in schools, prisons, drug and alcohol rehabs, and as pastor of First Baptist Church in Carthage.

Marcus Mann and his daughter, Miyah at her high school graduation
Marcus Mann and his daughter, Miyah at her high school graduation(Marcus Mann)

His newest assignment is as a character coach at Mississippi College. The salary - zip. It’s a volunteer job that he says has the ultimate payback.

“I get to encourage young people to walk by faith and not feelings,” he added. “I tell ‘em, ‘write your plans in pencil but give God the eraser because where you think you might end up may not be where God wants you to be.”

Mann will be honored during the 2021 Celebration Bowl Weekend in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, December 17, 2021.

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