There are some players who like the game of basketball, and then there are others who love the game, but for Michigan State junior guard Joshua Langford it’s his lifeline.
It ignites his soul and if he’s learned anything about himself in the last three months, it’s that he needs to breath it in even more now than he’s ever done before.
“You got me on the scooter!“ The junior guard from Huntsville, Alabama shouts out as he glides along to get on the team bus.
“Everybody always sees me as this inspirational-happy guy, but I’m still a human being,“ said Langford. “When I found out my season was over I was devastated. I was hurt. I remember crying about it. I remember really thinking ‘Man, I put all I have, and so many times in my life I’ve been in this position before, and it’s like when am I really going to get a break?’ What’s really going on.“
It’s easy to see why doubt would creep through his 6’5 frame. Not only was Langford one of MSU’s top 3-point shooters before his injury, but he was one of the Spartans’ best defensive guards as well. Usually the two don’t go hand-in-hand.
“But then I caught myself,“ Langford said. Then he stopped and recited a Bible verse. Romans 8:28
“I came back to my mind and understood, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ I’m in God’s hands everything is going to be taken care of.“
Named after the successor of Moses in the Bible, this isn’t the first time Joshua has leaned on his faith to help him see clearly through what many would call a time of darkness. At 12 years old he was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.
“If it wasn’t for my faith. I’d probably go crazy. I mean just to be honest,“ added Langford. “Just because of how much I love basketball. You know my faith has helped me a lot. Since I was 12 years old I always had to depend on my faith. When I had my life threatening sickness, I feel like ever since then my faith is something that has always pulled me through. I know with God that I’m going to be taken care of because God can not fail me. He’s not a failure.“
“He always stands next to me at the National Anthem and I always say, ‘God I wish you were playing.’ He says, ‘I’m alright Coach. There’s a reason for this.’ I said, ‘Would you tell me what it is?’ Then the anthem starts playing and we move on,“ Tom Izzo said with a smirk. “It’s unique.“
Little does Tom Izzo know, Langford knows that reason, which is why he’s able to calm his coach with three simple words. However, it took his season-ending injury for him to realize it.
If you watch him on the sideline he’s up calling out plays and directing his teammates sometimes more than the assistant coaches. As a co-captain, he’s found his voice. A voice that he didn’t have coming into the year.
“What I wanted to do was always be connected to those guys even if I wasn’t physically out there,“ said Langford. “That’s one thing that me and our new graduate manager, Chris Fowler, really talked about at the beginning of the season was for me to use my voice because my voice is God given.“
Langford then said, “I think for a long time I really shunned away from the leadership. The type of leader that I was really called to be and usually a lot of the time the things we run from God wants us to run to. The things we feel like we shouldn’t do are the things we should. The things that we feel give us the most pressure are really the things we should embrace.“
It also helped him embrace a relationship that will be crucial to his success next season.
“One of the good things that I was able to get from this was get a better relationship with Coach (Tom Izzo). Me sitting on the sideline. Coach and I had some good talks and I really believe this injury has allowed me to understand him more.“