Recently I had the privelege of interviewing former Buckeye roundball legend Luke Witte, and enjoyed a wonderful conversation with a very kind and insightful man. Part one of the interview was posted June 20th and you can read it here.
Because the interview was conducted over the phone, I have capsulized his comments and they are not word for word.
What happened when you made the trip to Minneapolis to meet Corky Taylor ten years after the "brawl"?
LW: It was almost surreal. When I arrived at the airport and got off the plane it was as if the terminal was empty. I don't know where everyone went, but it was almost eerie. At the baggage carousel, the only person other than me was a very tall black man and I knew it was him. We embraced rather awkwardly, and on the drive to Corky's residence we talked. At first the conversation was a little uncomfortable as you would expect. Clyde Turner, who was also on the Minnesota team in 1972, came over and the three of us watched the video of the game. While Clyde and I sat, Corky stood and paced, and it was obviously very hard for him to watch. But that day healing began. Later, we all went to watch Corky's son play soccer. It was humerous, because an Ohio State fan recognized me and came over to say hello. Then he saw the other two guys and realized who they were. His expression totally changed and he just turned and walked away! By the time I left Minneapolis, there was a peace among us that comes through reconciliation.
What good, if any, came from the whole incident?
LW: Two guys in Minnesota became my friends. They seemed to have a need for forgiveness and as we watched the video together there was reconciliation. I would have to say that at the soccer game there were three Christian men who enjoyed a time of fellowship. And, of course, the incident has provided me with a platform for sharing my testimony.
LW: I grew up in a Christian home and my father was a pastor. But growing up I wasn't fully devoted even though I believed. For years I would classify myself as a one-hour-a-week Christian. In my teen years I withdrew some after my father left my mother, and I didn't always live out what I professed, though I was involved in FCA, and even spoke on occasion. Through college and my years of playing professionally my wife and I went to church, but again, it was a one hour a week commitment. My life and marriage were good, but I still felt empty inside. Then in 1985 God got a hold of me through a program called "The Walk to Emmaus." I felt a call to ministry but I wondered if I was just missing the spotlight, since my basketball career was over. For some time I wrestled with it, and whether I should enter into seminary. At one point my wife and I decided to take a two week period and seek the Lord. We had rededicated our lives and wanted to serve the Lord in some way, and I definitely felt a call to ministry, so we decided to sell the sports store that we operated, and I entered Asbury Theological Seminary. I have been serving in ministry in various ways ever since then. I love to share my testimony and God has provided plenty of opportunities.
To many you will always be remembered as the guy who got attacked on the court. How would you like to be remembered?
LW: As someone who has left a legacy of faith for his family. It is so good to see your family serving God. Even as I have been talking to you my daughter sent me a text, and she is involved in service right now, and it fills me with joy. All of us need to ask ourselves what we are leaving behind. I hope that my family will be able to say that they have seen God working through me. That is how I would like to be remembered.
Once again, I want to thank Luke for taking time from his busy schedule to share so patiently and candidly. It is obvious that the same passion that made him a great basketball player is now leading him to make a difference with his life. The day I talked with him, Luke had been helping lead a basketball camp in Kansas City, teaching children basketball fundementals, but also talking about what is most important in life. As I shared with him it struck me that Hollywood has missed out on a great story (maybe it will still make it to the silver screen some day). And as I hung up the phone I thought to myself, Luke Witte makes me proud to be a Buckeye fan.