First, you see the young men in white shirts and black ties miss a couple of shots, but then as the game truly begins, they dominate, sinking layups and nailing two dunks. Best of all: It's a friendly, happy atmosphere. —NPR author Eyder Peralta
A video of two LDS missionaries serving in Henderson, Texas, playing basketball in shirts and ties has gone viral.
According to former BYU basketball player Kevin Nixon, one of the missionaries highlighted in the film is Elder Cole Payne, a former basketball and football star at Orem High School in Utah. Nixon shared the video and tweeted, "1 kid I coached at Orem HS, Cole Payne."
Nixon also later said Elder Payne's parents had already seen the clip. Nixon said he "first saw the video when Cole's mom posted it on IG and Facebook."
Now the 6-foot-3-inch missionary and his companion have made headlines with a video that highlights their athletic abilities and the crowd's surprised reactions to Elder Payne's dunk.
NPR posted the video this morning, pointing out the friendly way in which the players interact with each other.
"First, you see the young men in white shirts and black ties miss a couple of shots, but then as the game truly begins, they dominate, sinking layups and nailing two dunks," according to NPR author Eyder Peralta. "Best of all: It's a friendly, happy atmosphere."
The "For the win" section of USA Today also shared the video, with the headline "High-flyinig Mormon missionaries jam so hard." In the article, Mike Foss gives his take on the missionaries' performance:
"If this is a new evangelism technique, consider us sold. Mormon missionaries disguised as basketball prodigies, or basketball prodigies disguised as Mormon missionaries, took a neighborhood by storm recently." The video first got its exposure after appearing on Reddit Monday night.
Other news sites linked the video to other items related to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. SB Nation related the story to BYU star Jimmer Fredette. Another site compared the missionaries' skills to other Mormons on the nationally recognized basketball team at Lone Peak High School, while Gawker mentioned the feature film "Church Ball" and linked back to the LDS.org copy of the missionary handbook.
KSL spoke with Elder Payne's father and found out what really took place during the time the video was filmed. Wade Payne explained that his son had been serving on his mission for around three months at the time of the video. He was invited to play and set up his camera before joining them.
"(The missionaries) didn't know this at the time, but they were already teaching the daughter of the one guy that (Elder Payne) dunked over," Wade Payne told KSL. "I think it's good because anything that helps these guys interact with locals is good. ... It puts a good view on the (LDS) Church as long as they're having fun and doing it that way."
Wade Payne explained that the daughter his son had been teaching was baptized in May of this year, and she had originally given the elders her father's information as a referral.
During his time at Orem High School, Elder Payne was also a Utah All-State football player. Plans have been made for him to play for Southern Utah University as a wide receiver after he completes his missionary service.