Because his father was a great basketball player, people presume sports came naturally to Tyler Haws. But the truth is, he wasn’t a naturally talented basketball player. Still, he loved basketball and wanted to be really good at it. When he was in third grade, he got cut from a good team and was heart-broken. His dad told him that he would be happy to help Tyler. They’d work really hard and Tyler would get better. He promised Tyler that if he worked as hard as he could at anything in life, good things would happen.

Tyler and his father started to get up very early in the morning during the summers. For two hours before his dad left for work they would run drills at the church, which had a basketball court indoors. They drilled over and over again, doing a hundred or more free throws each morning, for instance, which isn’t exciting, but which helped him master the basic skills. Because he drilled so often he was able to do the right things in real games.

Not only did Tyler make the team, but he went on to become one of the best basketball players in the country in high school, being named Mr. Basketball twice, a rare accomplishment.

His dad feels that having to work harder than the other boys, and not being naturally talented at basketball, was probably a really good thing for Tyler. He learned that what helped him become a good basketball player could help him in all the other parts of his life, too. Setting goals and working hard could get him many of the things he wanted in his life.

One of the things he wanted was to serve as a missionary for his church. Tyler is a Mormon and most Mormon men give up two years of their life to serve God full-time at their own expense. When Tyler was just a child he set a goal to do this when he was nineteen, the youngest age men can go on missions. He worked hard to do the kinds of things that would make that possible. To serve a mission, a young man has to live a morally clean life, even in his teens. He needs to avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. He must maintain high moral standards in his dating life. He attends church weekly, studies and learns his religion well, develops self-discipline and builds a strong testimony. What Tyler learned from becoming a good basketball player also helped him become a good missionary. He’s now serving in the Philippines for two years.

People thought it was a little weird for him to leave the Brigham Young University basketball team to serve a mission. He was doing great, was important to the team, was following in his dad’s footsteps as a basketball star. Why give that up to serve a mission?

Because he’d promised God to serve Him first, and that meant a mission came before basketball. And his father served a mission, too.

Tyler admits it would have been a hard decision to make if he’d waited until he was an eighteen year old basketball star to make his decision. He was able to make the right decision because he made it young and devoted his life to working toward it. He says he has learned that when he puts God first, God blesses him.

And basketball will always be there when he returns. For now, Tyler is putting first things first, just as he always has.

Meet Tyler Haws by watching this video about him.

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