From short-shorts to trick-shots to viral videos and blog posts, 2013 proved to be a year many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made headlines.
Although they often were not expecting the overnight attention and their faith didn’t always play a central role in their rise to fame, their works made national news thanks to easy access to technology and social media.
As Today.com explained, “The prevalence of cameras on our phones and computers has allowed us to capture memorable moments from our everyday lives and share them with others.”
The following 20 list items highlight the most-viewed, features-based Deseret News stories of the year in which Mormons made headlines, along with links to some of the other websites they appeared on.
"Utah Couple shares lessons learned from infertility after baby announcement video goes viral"
Mormon couple Jalene and Lincoln Taylor announced their pregnancy to Facebook friends through a video that ended up spreading the news not only to online acquaintances but to the world.
Within two weeks of posting their announcement video to YouTube, the Taylors had been featured on many national news sites, including The Huffington Post, CNN and TODAY.
"We really didn't expect the video to get so big. We had an idea that our family and friends would love it, but didn't think other people would," Jalene Taylor told the Deseret News. "We have really felt loved that all of these strangers around the world are excited for us too!"
"Utah mom inspires braid for Prim in 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' shares stories from being on set"
Mindy McKnight and her family have quickly built up their family business and their presence on YouTube.
While Cute Girls Hairstyles has been growing since McKnight simply started uploading videos for friends and family to see in 2008, this year the stylish family made headlines and garnered much recognition.
Most recently, the family YouTube channel announced that one of their hairstyles, the Bow Braid, was used in the blockbuster film, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."
This year Cute Girls Hairstyles has also been featured in many Disney Style videos.
"I was a stay-at-home mom before I started this," McKnight told the Deseret News. "And initially it started out making a few extra bucks here and there, and then it became where it was a pretty good secondary income and now my husband has quit his career and he's working full-time with me to run our YouTube business."
- Deseret News- "Utah mom inspires braid for Prim in 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire,' shares stories from being on set"
- Today.com- "Cute hair styles for girls make mom a YouTube star"
- Daily Mail UK- "From Minnie Mouse buns to Katniss braids: Mother's lessons in making unique hairstyles for her daughters goes viral"
- New York Magazine- "Mother Fashions Kids’ Hair Into Preposterous Updos, Becomes YouTube Sensation"
On Oct. 30, the Children's British Broadcasting Company re-aired a “My Life” episode dedicated to one of the largest families in the United Kingdom: a Mormon Scottish family with 12 children. The show featured the oldest daughter's civil wedding, followed by her sealing in the Preston England Temple.
The show was nominated for a Royal Television Award for Best Children’s Programme (School Age), and the family members are vocal about their LDS beliefs.
"It is very important to us to have our faith," Annabelle’s mother, Emma, said in an interview on the blog Pinkoddy. "It has had an effect on shaping who we are. It has helped us in our hardest times, giving us a stronger commitment to each other."
"LDS Church recognizes Lone Peak basketball stars"
This past year the Lone Peak basketball team surprised sport commentators around the nation and even had their name thrown around for best team in the country.
This high school basketball team, comprised of many members of the LDS Church, were not only talked about for their skills and how they looked like a chess club, but for their faith.
After the team competed in many tournaments and successfully made a name for themselves around the country, the Mormon Newsroom also did a feature on the Utah state champion boys basketball team.
Jabari Parker has proved that he was equal to the hype he received in high school. Now playing for Duke University, Parker is leading the team in both scoring and rebounding. A Deseret News article reports that “in grading the nation's top freshman, USA Today's Nicole Auerbach awarded Parker an ‘A.’ 'Parker’s versatility on both ends of the court is exceptional,' " Auerbach wrote in her review.
The Deseret News reported that Parker is keeping himself busy finding a good balance between basketball, school and his other responsibilities.
A decade after her kidnapping, Elizabeth Smart, along with Chris Stewart, released a book recounting her traumatic experience.
In her book, Smart shares the best advice she received after her kidnapping, which came from her mother.
Smart’s mother said, “You be happy, Elizabeth. Just be happy. If you go and feel sorry for yourself, or if you dwell on what has happened, if you hold on to your pain, that is allowing (Mitchell) to steal more of your life away. So don’t you do that. Don’t you let him. There is no way that he deserves that. Not one more second of your life.”
And as Doug Robinson wrote in his article about the book, “remarkably and triumphantly, Elizabeth has moved on.”
Mormon professor Clayton Christensen, who teaches at Harvard, made headlines when he was named the world’s most influential living management thinker in November.
A British reporter described Christensen as “perhaps the nicest man ever to lecture at Harvard Business School.”
The reporter said in Christensen’s acceptance speech he “was controlled, thoughtful, sincere and provocative.”
Christensen is a best-selling author, most recently having published “How Will You Measure Your Life?” in 2012.
"Marriage isn't for you: Author explains viral blog post"
On his personal blog, Seth Adam Smith published an experience he had and a lesson he learned while deciding whether to marry his now-wife Kim.
That was a Saturday night, and by the next week he had more than 24 million page views.
His post, "Marriage isn't for you," and Smith's point that love should be selfless caused quite the controversy online and was one of the most talked about blog posts of the year. Smith stated in his post: "No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love."
Many national news sites republished Smith's article, while millions of Facebook users shared his original post, enough so that his site crashed for a time.
Smith has stood by his post and most recently announced that he will be writing a book.
Hip-hop violinist Lindsey Stirling was no stranger in 2013. She brought her music on tour through Europe, Asia and Australia, appeared on numerous talk shows and even won an award in the first ever YouTube Music Awards, among other notable accomplishments.
In January this year, Mormon.org released a video featuring Stirling. In the video, Stirling talked about her love of music, as well as her past struggle to overcome anorexia. She started her YouTube channel in 2007, and she now has more than 3.8 million subscribers. Currently, Stirling is working on new music for a new album.
"Mormon missionary, former Orem High basketball star showcases talent in viral video (+video)"
A missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Cole Payne, serving in Henderson, Texas, quickly became a viral sensation after a video of him playing basketball was uploaded to YouTube.
Mike Foss with USAToday was astonished by the physical play coming from the boys in white shirts and ties.
"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," Foss wrote.
Elder Payne was a former basketball and football star at Orem High School and has committed to play football at Southern Utah University after the completion of his mission.
Several Mormons have made appearances on reality TV shows this year. While some had victories, others simply enjoyed their time in the limelight.
The following national TV shows each featured members of the LDS church during 2013 episodes:
"Jeff Benedict: Christian convert's beliefs hold up throgh violence, threats, imprisonment"
In the fall, Christian Tito Momen and author Jeff Benedict released Momen’s book, “My Name Used to Be Muhammad: The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian.” The book explores Momen’s decision to convert to Christianity and how it influenced his life. The book has a five-star average review on Amazon.com.
Ryan Rotela, an LDS student at Florida Atlantic University, made headlines in March when he refused to stomp on a paper that said “Jesus” on it as part of a class activity.
“Anytime you stomp on something, it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word 'Jesus,' it says that the word has no value,” Rotela said in an interview with CBS News. The university later released a statement saying that “the exercise will not be used again.”
"My husband Alex Boye grilled in UK for 'I'm a Mormon' campaign"
No. 7 on the Deseret News’ “Mormons who made headlines” list was written by singer Alex Boye’s wife Julie. In her post, Boye wrote about her husband’s involvement in the U.K.’s “I’m a Mormon” campaign and getting “grilled” during it.
This past fall, Alex Boye also made headlines when he released a new album titled “I Am Gold,” which has “pop music with an African twist.”
"Mormon 2-year-old basketball star becomes famous for 'trick shot' YouTube video (+video)"
The all-star toddler Titus Ashby of Derby, Kan., has not only become a YouTube sensation for his basketball trick shots, but the 2-year-old is a regular on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and many other national entertainment shows.
This year 2-year-old Titus has not only gone viral on YouTube for his awe-inspiring shooting ability, but he has competed against several NBA stars, including Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Metta World Peace.
Titus has competed against actors Channing Tatum, Bradley Cooper and Adam Sandler.
Titus also came in fourth place on Google's top 10 sport videos of 2013.
"Mormon man dubbed 'husband of the year' shares story of coming out of anesthesia, viral video"
After coming out of surgery, Jason Mortensen didn't know where he was, he didn't know what happened and, most importantly, he didn't recognize his wife.
His wife, Candice, said she was used to her husband acting strange after waking up from anesthesia, but this time she decided to film it.
After putting the video on YouTube merely to show family members, the Mortensens quickly became a YouTube phenomenon.
"It's not too much of a shocker for me that when I'm out of it and coming out of anesthesia that I feel that way about her because that's really the way I feel about her," Jason Mortensen told the Deseret News.
The couple is currently in the process of adopting a child from Uganda.
"The real story behind Utah County dad's viral short-shorts photo"
Scott and Becky Mackintosh's lives have changed drastically since Scott decided to cut his own pants to mimic his daughter's apparel and teach her a lesson about modesty.
This Mormon family told their story in a blog post written by Scott, which then exploded. They have since appeared on news outlets and entertainment shows across the globe.
Now Scott and Becky have decided to use their fame to share their tips on parenting. Written by Becky with M. Bridget Cook, their new book, "My Husband Wears The Short Shorts In THIS Family," can be downloaded on Amazon.
The following news outlets featured this dad's short-shorts:
"From 'Book of Mormon' musical to Mormon convert"
As the Deseret News article said, “It was underneath the lights of Broadway in Sept. 25, 2011, that Boston resident Liza Morong’s life changed forever. She just didn’t know it then.”
The Broadway show Morong attended was the “Book of Mormon” musical, and it was from her experience seeing it that Morong decided to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was baptized on Dec. 31, 2011, and is currently attending the University of Utah.
"Mormon bishop disguises himeself as homeless man to teach congregation about compassion"
Deseret News broke the news of the Taylorsville, Utah, bishop who disguised himself as a homeless man for church services in late November. The story caught fire, and many major news outlets shared it, including Fox News, NBC, NPR and The Associated Press.
The Deseret News’ top performing 2013 “Mormons who made headlines” article was "Al Fox: Tattooed Mormon."
Her blog post made its rounds on social media, and as of January 2013, her speaking schedule was booked every week until December, according to her blog, alfoxshead.blogspot.com.
In August of this year, Fox married in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.