Joshua Langford was an obvious leader in helping Madison Academy (Alabama) to two state titles. After all, he’s a four-time state Class 3A Player of the Year and a two-time Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year.
But his goals for his senior season were to be a different kind of leader, becoming a spiritual force for his school and team.
“I think you have to put everything in perspective,” he said. “We are here for something more important than basketball and that’s Christ. I have been trying to push myself better spiritually. Everybody pushes themselves in school and in basketball, but you have to answer to God. It’s not like he’s going to ask you how many points you scored. I believe I’ve done a pretty good job with that and it’s helped push me to higher heights.”
Langford’s role is among the reasons so much family, friends and members of the community showed up Saturday when Langford was honored during the McDonald’s All American Game Hometown Heroes presented by American Family Insurance.
“I was exciting to see all those people,” he said. “I feel very blessed and am very thankful.”
Beyond basketball, the 6-6 Michigan State signee also teaches Sunday school for boys at his church and delivers sermons regularly. He also speaks often at Madison Academy’s chapel.
“I’ve been called to work. I just try to work for Christ and teach people,” he said. “Jesus taught his disciples to go out and make disciplines of men. I’ve been called out to help make men with our youth ministry. I’m not perfect but, it’s going well. I look forward to that aspect of my life.”
Langford’s devotion has been deeply impacted by the life-threatening bacterial meningitis that he suffered as a 12-year-old. Langford saw his fever spike and had headaches and hallucinations after football practice for his middle school team and was hospitalized for more than a week and homebound for another two.
“That affected my life a lot — just going through it at 12 years old,” he said. “I could have been dead the next day. It helped me again put things in perspective and and mature and understand what was really important. That was God and his healing. It made me do the best I can for Christ.”
After finishing his senior season, potentially with another title, and the McDonald’s game in Chicago on March 30, Langford will continue his basketball career at Michigan State. Coach Tom Izzo took a unique step of having Langford and his family take an official visit to East Lansing last June, which is earlier than many players use their officials.
Langford has taken unofficials to Duke, Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia.
“Michigan State was like home when I went there on my first official visit. I had four more to other schools if I want them,” he said. “They promoted a family environment and that’s something I’m big on. A lot of schools talk that and don’t go through it.
“Look at the NCAA run last year. The team didn’t really stack up that well talentwise, but they had so much chemistry and they were a family that they couldn’t be stopped. Beyond that Coach Izzo is a Hall of Fame coach. Everybody in the world knows that and he can keep pushing me and that made me want to go there.”
Unlike many potential McDonald’s All Americans, Langford wasn’t huddled around a TV when the selections were announced on ESPNU. He was at the gym.
“I didn’t know. My coach texted me,” he said. “I was excited. I wanted to go back to the gym and work harder because knew I was then an All-American and people would play harder against me. But it’s a great feeling to know that I am in this game.”