"The biggest thing I want to tell people is that your relationship with Jesus is by far the most important thing, and I want to tell as many people as I can about it."
Former Kentucky Wildcat Jarrod Polson shares his story of faith in his book, Living Beyond the Dream. He hopes to use his platform as a former University of Kentucky basketball player to share the message of Jesus and encourage people to find fulfillment in their relationship with Him.
My family is definitely a huge part of my faith. I grew up in a Christian home with two great Christian parents. My two brothers were really involved with the church and with their youth groups. My family really instilled values that I still treasure to this day. I mean, my parents would read the Bible to me every single night and make sure I said my prayers and all that good stuff. I truly value it to this day because I think those are two of the most important things you need to do as a Christian and really how you grow.
I went to Ethiopia the summer between my junior and senior year. We took kind of a service trip with UK athletics. They do it every year. I think the biggest thing for me, the biggest lesson I learned over there came from a woman that we met in one of the villages. She was a victim of leprosy, so she didn’t have any hands; she didn’t have any feet.
The one thing that she just kept telling us was, “God bless you. God bless you. God bless you. God bless you.” And we later found out through the translator she was a Christian. So for me, I looked at that, and she had nothing that the world had to offer in terms of physical things, but she had everything in her heart, and she was a Christian, and she believed in Jesus. And that’s really what kept her going. Then for me, I had everything back home at Kentucky. I was living out my dream and she had more joy than I had. It just was kind of a testament to Jesus is really the only way you’re going to be satisfied and so that was really big for me.
I think when people think about religion and Christianity, they just kind of see it as a side thing and it’s just something a part of your life but it’s not really your whole thing. I want to tell people that that’s really it. That’s the most important thing in your life and that’s all that really matters in the end. It’s truly the most fulfilling thing you can do because I think, especially in America, people are always searching for different things to make them happy. A lot of those things, sometimes, turn into a downfall of a person. So when I have this platform and I have this pulpit to speak to people, I want to tell them that I’ve lived out everything that I ever wanted as a kid and that really didn’t satisfy me. The biggest thing I want to tell people is that your relationship with Jesus is by far the most important thing, and I want to tell as many people as I can about it.
Jarrod Polson talks about fulfilling his childhood dream of playing basketball for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, how faith has impacted his life, the message he wants to share with as many people as possible and his experience self-publishing with WestBow Press.
"Authoring this book, I think, is really kind of the first step of living beyond the dream because I’ve done it the last four years."
Kentucky basketball is kind of in my blood. I mean, since I was a kid, that was my number one dream. I wore Kentucky jerseys all the time; I knew every single player and their numbers; I watched every single game on TV. That’s just kind of what I grew up in and then being able to kind of live out that dream that I’ve had since I was a kid was really awesome to me. After I got done playing, a lot of people kind of told me, “You lived out your dream. You have a great story. You should think about writing a book.”
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I just think it’s a really good story, especially for the BBN, the Big Blue Nation, to read and also for other people that just kind of feel like they’re the underdog. I was the underdog coming into Kentucky so I think a lot of people can relate to it in life.
I know a lot of people, especially kids that are growing up in the state right now, they have the same dream that I did as a kid so I kind of want to encourage them, like, “Man, you can really live out your dreams,” but at the same time, if that’s all you’re really looking for, that’s not going to bring fulfillment. A lot of people are reaching out for all these different things the world can give them. But if they don’t have Jesus at the center then they’re really not going to find any true joy.
That’s where my faith comes in and kind of what I talk about throughout the book. My grandpa encouraged me to look up WestBowPress.com, and so I got on the website and I called the number. It seemed really simple to me, and everyone that I talked to seemed really nice and helpful. So I just kind of went with WestBow and it turned out to be great.
Authoring this book, I think, is really kind of the first step of living beyond the dream because I’ve done it the last four years. I’m kind of done with that and so now it’s my opportunity. I have a platform now, especially in the state of Kentucky where I can show people this actual real life example of living out your dream and realizing, in the end, that’s not where your true fulfillment comes from. Any chance I get to tell people what truly matters in life, I’m going to take that opportunity. I think as a Christian, that’s kind of your number one job is to spread that love and to spread that realization to everyone you meet.
Jarrod Polson, former basketball player for the University of Kentucky, has published his memoir, Living Beyond the Dream, with WestBow Press. Polson shares what it was like to be a walk-on for the Wildcats and experience his childhood dream come true.
"I can remember when the buzzer sounded, and we had beaten Kansas in 2012, we all just kind of rushed out onto the court and confetti fell."
I just honestly love the sport. My family, they say they have video of me when I was one years old, about 18 months, shooting a basketball into a Little Tikes® goal. It was just kind of in my blood. I always loved to play the sport. I had two older brothers that liked basketball as well, so they kind of molded me into the player that I was.
Coming out of high school, I didn’t really have many offers, and so after my senior year, Kentucky called out of the blue just to see if I was really good enough to play. Once they offered me that spot I don’t think I could have turned it down. I heard some things, like, “You’re a walk-on. You’re not going to be treated as fairly as some of the players.” But, by the fans, the coaches and the staff, everyone treated me so well, and I had some of the best years of my life here.
My first two years were definitely a struggle. All I could do was make the right choices and do my part as a team. If I got to play, then fine, but if not, I was still doing my part. So when the Maryland game came, I didn’t really expect to play at all. I had been used to being a victory cigar. I think even the Maryland coach was kind of looking at his assistant saying, “Who’s that? We don’t even have him on the scouting report.”
So when I got in, Dickie V I think announced, “This kid has never played before. He just needs to go in and play solid, just not make any mistakes.” And then when I made a few of my good plays, he just kept growing to love me more, I think. I just somehow played really well that game and that kind of got my name out there and kind of showed the coaches that I could play a little bit. Ultimately, it gave me confidence that I was really searching for my first two years.
I can remember when the buzzer sounded, and we had beaten Kansas in 2012, we all just kind of rushed out onto the court and confetti fell. So when you’re a kid and you’re watching the championship game you see all that, and you wish you could experience it, and then I actually got to experience that. So that was awesome. We went back to the hotel, and we were on this balcony, and we were throwing beads to all the fans that were lined up on Bourbon Street. It was really just an overwhelming experience and something I’ll remember the rest of my life.
A lot of people had the same dream I did and people want to hear about it all the time. So I think it just made sense to kind of tell my story and tell the story of everyone that dreams of being a Kentucky Wildcat and show them what it’s really like.