Rev. Dr. Vernon Wendt Jr. grew up in East Grand Rapids, MI. An ordained pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, he’s a registered Sports Chaplain with CEDE Sports. The highlight of his so-called baskestball career was earning the 1980 Division IV Most Valuable Player Award of the Gus Macker Choo Choo Classic.
Targeted Age Group:: Teen and Young Adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Sugar has been a bright light in my life ever since I saw him play in high school, not only how he shot the ball from unprecedented range but in the manner in which he played. Wherever I have lived and served as a missionary, I have often boasted to others that the greatest basketball player I've ever seen came from my hometown of Grand Rapids, only to be met with skepticism and disbelief by those who never witnessed Sugar play in person. However, he's an even better person than he is a player. Sugar is a role model of someone who has chased after a dream and even though things turned out differently than he expected, has realized God's purpose for giving him that dream. Just as the community embraced him in his growing up years, he is returning the thanks by giving back to the community through his annual affordable basketball camps. I believe Sugar should be a house-hold name not just in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but beyond that, not just as a player but as a role-model for youth and adults.
As thrilled as I am about the impact Sugar's camp is having on the kids, I'm estatic to be at the camp personally to witness Sugar using his basketball gifts as a playtform for outreach. Just three grades in school, Sugar once lived three miles from me. He has the same unbridled passion for the game of basketball that I still do. Yet, we had never even talked to each other before.
Then I wrote him a letter at the beginning of 2018, asking if anyone had ever considered writing his story. A couple of months later I received a phone call from an unfamiliar number with the Grand Rapids area code. I answered, thinking it might be a spam call. Instead, a deep voice said, "I'm Bobbie McLaughlin, Sugar's brother."
He handed the phone to Sugar. I heard the smile in his greeting, "What's up, big fella?" In minutes, all three of us were swapping stories like old friends, convinced that God was at work in bringing us together.
Sugar had held on to the letter I had written, wondering if it might be legit. "Who is this Vernon Wendt Junior guy, anyway, and what's his motivation for wanting to write a book about me?" Finally, when Bobbie arrived from Los Angeles, Sugar pulled the letter from his desk, "Bro, what do you think?"
Bobbie looked up from reading the letter, beaming. "We've been praying for this!"
As a result Sugar and I are no longer strangers. Our relationship has grown through personal interviews, inverviewing others who know him, and attending his basketball camp for the last couple of years. By hanging out with him, including some shooting duels when I've visited Grand Rapids, I've come to appreciate even further not only his exceptional ability on the playing floor but also his outstanding character. Time with Sugar has elevated his status as one of the heroes God has put in my life, inspiring me to be a better person.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Buy Sweet Shot: The Basketball Life and Legacy of Melvin “Sugar” McLaughlin Print Edition at Amazon
Links to Purchase eBooks – Click links for book samples and reviews
Buy Sweet Shot: The Basketball Life and Legacy of Melvin “Sugar” McLaughlin On Amazon
Have you read this book? Tell us what you thought! All information was provided by the author and not edited by us. This is so you get to know the author better.