At a recent Fellowship of Christian Athletes event, Davidson shirts and hats were sprinkled throughout the crowd. So when the event's main speaker was announced, calling him "one of our own," it was no surprise that the crowd went wild.
Former Wildcat and current Golden State Warriors NBA player Stephen Curry grinned as he stood in front of some of his most loyal fans gathered at Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Cornelius.
"It's truly an honor for me to stand in front of you and come back to my old stomping grounds," he said. "I don't take it for granted."
The blessings he has received and the humility with which he tries to live by were a common theme throughout his speech. He talked about his family, how they shaped him to be the person he is today.
He praised his father, Dell Curry, saying how his NBA career with the Charlotte Hornets sparked Curry's own love for basketball and crediting him for his success on the court today. He spoke admiringly about his mother, Sonya, a strong disciplinarian, saying she kept him on the right path and once, in high school, kept him from playing in the biggest game of the season because he brought home a B-minus and didn't do the dishes.
But most of all, he talked about his relationship with God.
Curry's faith shines through in his basketball career. He marks every pair of shoes with two Bible verses - Romans 8:28 and Philippians 4:13 - to remind him who he plays for. And whenever he makes a significant shot or play, he pounds his chest twice and points to the sky. Contrary to what some believe, it is not a No. 1 sign, but rather a way for Curry to give credit to God. But he never prayed to win, thinking that God didn't care which team won.
While Curry's life now seems like what every basketball-playing kid strives for, he said he had his share of roadblocks. His dream in high school was to play at a Division I school in the ACC. He went to every coach, hoping for a spot on a team in the conference, but was repeatedly told that he was too small and not fast enough, and that he didn't have what it took.
"A lot of people around me told me I was a failure because I didn't achieve the high level of success I wanted," said Curry. "But I knew there had to be a bigger picture."
And that picture came into focus when Davidson coach Bob McKillop offered him a place on the Wildcats' team. Since then, Curry has never looked back.
"I bleed Davidson red," he said, to the crowd's applause.
After he finished his speech, he answered several questions, ranging from the best NBA player (LeBron James) to favorite color (blue) to his stance on the area's most heated rivalry - UNC vs. Duke.
"I'm a Davidson fan first," said Curry. "Then I guess my family became Duke fans because my brother (Seth) plays there. So I support Duke right now until he graduates."
He was also asked if he would be coming home to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Curry said he would be playing for the Warriors for two more years, per his contract, and then was open to other options.
"I would definitely love to come back home," he said.
According to the cheers, his fans would like that too.
As Curry wrapped up his speech, the audience crowded around for autographs and pictures.
Noah Chartier, 8, of Davidson waited patiently in line to get Curry's autograph.
Noah is a big Davidson fan and really liked Curry's talk.
"My favorite part was when he was talking about his shoes," he said.
After his speech, Curry said he enjoys being back in the Davidson area and doing these types of events.
"I don't get the chance (to do this) very often," said Curry. "The kids were great."