My name is Marty Stubblefield. I am the president of Hancock Bank in Tallahassee, Florida. I was not born here, I was born in Lexington, Kentucky; born to play basketball. My dad was a high school coach and a college coach; coached under Adolph Rupp for a while at the University of Kentucky.
My mom stayed home some, worked some. Then my folks were divorced when I was 11. So I went from being in a happy, solid home (though we didn’t go to church), to a broken home, and a broken family.
We ended up living in a government housing area when I was about 11, 12, 13 years old. So all of a sudden we were faced with choices and decisions that we had to make. And looking back on life I can see God’s hand – kind of drawing me away from the issues and the trouble that I could have had as a child, and drawing me towards basketball – where I was bouncing a ball instead of worrying about divorce, instead of worrying about drugs and alcohol and other things that were prevalent in that area.
From there, basketball really became my god. Basketball kind of sat on the throne of my heart and in my life. It was king. And so everything I did revolved around getting a basketball scholarship. Basketball was life.
We never went to church, or rarely went to church except during Christmas and during Easter. Played junior high basketball, high school basketball. Moved my senior year in high school to have a better opportunity to play college basketball, more than anything.
So we moved, and I sure enough got a college scholarship and played basketball at Southern Mississippi. And it was there that I kind took a deep breath and said, “I reached my goal.” But it was also there that I realized that maybe I’d never be an NBA player, because there were many players just as good as me if not better. That’s when my world kind of got rocked, because I was no longer the superstar. I was no longer “the guy.” I was no longer “the man.”
And it was also there that God broke me and just said, “You know, I’ve got something else even greater planned for you. And at that point I had the understanding that I needed to get in church. So I started going to church with some guys, and nothing really, you know, it’s like “Yeh, it’s church,” you know. No big deal. Kind of like it was in high school. Kind of like it was in, you know…except in junior high and high school it was all about going at Christmas and Easter and checking out girls. In college it was about feeling that something was missing in my life.
Finally one Sunday, after staying up all night talking with my roommate and my suitemate about the end of the world and about what God might do and what might happen, I came to the realization that I really needed God. But I didn’t know how to do that. And the only way I could understand to do that was to join the church.
So I went to the church service, listened to the pastor, and I just kind of had a fog, and just kind of had this vision of the aisle, knowing that I had to walk down that aisle to join the church. Went down there and talked with the college pastor and we prayed a prayer that I have no idea what was said. And as he introduced me, he said that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I kind of looked at him like, “I did?” I didn’t realize that I did. And just kind of kept that to myself, kept a smile painted on my face like everything was good.
Went back to the dorm and our graduate assistant, a guy named Jimmy C. who was our graduate assistant on the basketball team, walked up to me and said, “Marty, do you know what you’ve done?”
Jimmy was the guy who got us in trouble. He was the guy who made us run if we broke a team rule or whatever. I just kind of looked at Jimmy and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, man. What do you mean?”
“Well you say you made a decision today in church. Do you know what you’ve done?”
It’s there that I said, “Jimmy, I have no idea. I just knew that I needed to join the church.”
So he sat down and talked with me and shared with me, and it was at that point that I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It was at that point that I realized there was more to life than basketball.
Now that didn’t mean that everything was good and great and gravy for the rest of my college life. And basketball got back up on the throne sometimes, in Jesus’ lap, you know, if you look at it that way. There was a battle quite often through the rest of my college career.
But ultimately it was that Jesus was my Lord and Savior and He changed my life. And from that point on I can look back and say, “I have a marker in the road where I know that I accepted Him, that my life has been changed forever.” And as I face trials and as I face choices that I have to make, I know that Jesus is there. And I know that there’s nothing that I face that He hasn’t faced. And that gives me peace and gives me hope, knowing that I’m not alone.