Since arriving in December in a five-player swap for Miguel Tejada, left fielder Luke Scott has been everything the Baltimore Orioles were hoping for and more. The streaky but potent hitter began the season hitting .389 in April and leading the American League in doubles. His batting average dipped in May, but lately he has found his swing again. Scott hit his 12th home run of the season on June 18 and has driven in 27 runs as of June 20.
Scott brought more than just a bat with him to the Orioles. He also brought a Bible. The Florida native who turns 30 on June 25 became a devout Christian during college, after living a life he says was less than holy. But even though he is much more spiritual these days, he hasn’t completely given up his free-spirited ways. Before a game against his former team, the Houston Astros, Scott talked about his love of God and guns.
What led you to become a more spiritual person?
Well, for me, I was like most people. I didn’t grow up in a church home where we went to church all the time. I came up in a Jehovah’s Witness family, at first. But when I was a young boy, my father, he took us out [of Jehovah’s Witness]. I was 7- or 8-years-old. Me, my brother and my sister, he said, ‘I don’t have all the answers, but I know that [the Bible] is the truth, what is written in the word of God. I’ll just do my best to teach you until I get answers for myself about church.’ So he would teach us out of the Bible, read stories to us. He would just tell us how to live, kept things real simple.
I was like many Americans where I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I didn’t have a personal relationship with him. That’s the difference. I lived my life to please myself. I went to college. I drank beer, partied with my friends, chased girls, you name it. I just did things that I thought was best for me, but it left an empty feeling.
My mother, as I went off to junior college, she gave me a Bible to read. They [his parents] just found a church, First Assemblies of God. She gave me a Bible, and she said, ‘I want you to read at least five minutes a day.’ I gave her all the excuses in the world. I don’t have time. She said, ‘No. Give me five minutes. You can give five minutes a day. The key is I want you to read every day.’ All right, mom. I started reading every day and basically I read the Bible, starting with the New Testament, and read all the way through. Then I went to the Old Testament, and I found the Bible very interesting. I would find myself reading for more than five minutes most of the time. Slowly, but surely, over the next three years I began to find out through God’s word who he is what he came to do and how he wants us to live. . . . I asked myself, ‘What are you going to do with your life? Are you going to be like everyone else or are you going to do what’s right?’ I just made a decision. I said, ‘It’s time to grow up. It’s time to start living for the Lord, do things the right way.’ I accepted the Lord, and it changed my life, just a complete 180.
Was this gradual from your mom giving you the Bible or was there an incident that sort of caused you to make a change?
I tell you this I remember one night [at Oklahoma State, the beginning of his senior year] after drinking and partying and doing whatever, I went to the bathroom to wash my face, and I looked at myself in the mirror, and it’s like, ‘Well, are you happy with what you’re becoming? Would your father be proud? Is God proud of you? If you had a son, would you be proud of him?’ I started thinking along those lines. . . . ‘I’m going to at least try and do things the right way for a while. I’m accepting the Lord. I’m going to live for Him.’ That’s how I went about it. The decision was in my mind. My public confession wasn’t until six months later.
Why did it take six months?
Til I came home from college. I wanted to do it at home. I wanted to get baptized in my church. [He was baptized June 2001.]
Do you still read the Bible every day?
Every single day. Every day. It’s right there. In that backpack. [He points to a black backpack in his locker.]
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
No, I don’t have a favorite bible verse. I have many. You have different ones for different circumstances, different situations. The one that I really stick by is Colossians 3:23: ‘And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.’ I take that scripture to the ballpark every day. When I do this, this blessing that God has given me to play major league baseball, this job, I’m going to work at it for Him.
Do you think God has a role in sports?
I believe God created sports for a good reason. It’s recreation. It’s something that we enjoy. It teaches us a lot as well. . . . I believe God is a sports fan.
Do you think he is an Orioles fan?
Right now I do. I think the Lord respects and He admires the attitude that we have on this team because it’s His attitude and it’s His principles that we honor here. If we honor God, God will honor us.
Is religion prevalent in this locker room?
Not too much. We have some Christian men here. We have a lot of people here who are like the majority of people in American who believe in God and believe He exists, and there’s a lot of them who have a personal relationship with him, but there’s a lot who don’t. In this locker room we do have Christian men who do have a personal relationship with him. We have a lot of men who believe in God who don’t have a personal relationship with him, and we have some, maybe some who don’t believe. But I think the majority believe in God. They do things his way.
Is it a challenge for you dealing with those who don’t have the same beliefs as you?
No, because I was once there. I know where they are. You don’t reach people by trying to force [religion] on them, telling them, ‘You need the Lord. You need to get your life turned around, or you’re going to be in a world of hurt.’ That doesn’t work. . . . My belief is to go out and preach the gospel to all corners of the Earth.
Do you do it here in the locker room?
Well, when people ask questions. If someone comes to me with a question, yeah, you want to know what I believe, here it is. They’re going to get it.
I understand you have a gun, a Glock.
I’ve got many [guns].
You have many? What do you have?
I’ve got an AK-47, AR-15s, hunting rifles, sniper rifles, shot guns.
Do you hunt?
Yeah, love to hunt. I like to shoot. I like to target practice.
What do you hunt?
I hunt deer. I shoot skeet with a shotgun. I’ll hunt birds. If I get the opportunity, wild pigs. I want to make a trip out west and I want to hunt elk. I do want to hunt some dangerous game.
Some people would find it a little odd that someone who is so strong in his Christian beliefs would kill animals.
Well, in the Bible it says God has made everything good for man to eat and to wear their skins. Whenever we eat beef, we eat chicken, we have to kill to eat. But at the same time, hunting is a sport. I think it is a great sport. . . . I would say most hunters are Christian men.
Still, some people wonder about having a gun.
I rely on guns for protection in life. God does not say, ‘This is la-la land.’ God doesn’t say, ‘Welcome to Earth. Everything’s perfect. There’s no crime. There’s no murder. There’s no death.’ The world is imperfect, and you have to be on guard. If you’re not, you can be a Christian, ‘Oh, I have a personal relationship with God,’ you go in the wrong neighborhood, it doesn’t matter. When you get shot and killed and you go to see Him, ‘Lord, I thought you were going to protect me.’ He’ll probably be like, ‘Well, you can’t go walking into a freakin’ war zone.’
As a professional athlete do you feel that you need a gun?
Not only as a professional athlete, anyone with money. I grew up in a rough neighborhood where I’ve seen what criminals do, what they look for. They’re opportunists. If you’re not prepared, are you willing to take that chance? That’s how it is. I carry a gun. Does anyone have to worry about me on the street, going in and shooting somebody? No. Does a criminal who tries to steal or murder or hurt someone around me? He has to worry.