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1Died4All Basketball Camp in Uganda: Interview with the McAdoos

The 1Died4All Basketball camp, blend of basketball and prayers, has been running at Makerere Main Grounds for a week and came to an end on Friday. It had attracted over 100 kids from with in Kampala given that it’s non residential.

Former NBA player Ronnie and wife Janet McAdoo are the brains behind the initiative.

Ronnie played for Old Dominion University, a Division I college, where he had consistency in shooting and rebounding; 1,776 points and 953 rebounds in a space of four years while at the University. During college, he had a career high of 33 points and 17 rebounds.

It’s no wonder that he was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the 10th pick in 1982.

Basketball is a family thing for McAdoo. His son Micheal McAdoo, played for North Carolina and was drafted on the USA Junior team, joined the NBA undrafted in 2014 and went ahead to win two Championships with Golden state Warriors (2015-2017). And currently plays for Sun Rockers Shibuya in Japan. Kelsey McAdoo, the daughter, played for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

SportsNation: Tell us more about who Ronnie is?
Janet McAdoo: First of all don’t call him Ronnie (laughs)
Ronnie McAdoo: I go by the name Mac or Big Mac. That’s what they call me in the States. I am just a humble young guy who is so blessed to have Jesus in my life. God has given me the gift of Evangelism which I have been able to use my experience in basketball as a platform to lift up the name of Christ. That’s how the camp came about. I have been married for 36 years to this lady right here (looks at Janet). We are so blessed to have 2 beautiful kids and 4 grandchildren with one on the way (laughs).

SportsNation: Why 1Died4All Basketball?
Ronnie: I believe that Jesus Christ is the answer to all our problems in this World. After seeing so many young people in the States that I thought were throwing their lives away with drugs, teenage pregnancy, committing crimes, I knew that I had to share with them the love of Christ. That Christ would be the difference in their lives. But these young people wouldn’t talk to me because they didn’t know me. So through much prayer, God said that if I started a basket camp, they would come. This is because Basketball is like a language that everyone can relate to. So when they come to camp we use the platform of basketball to share the love of Christ. Kids that would never come through the door of the church, they come through our camp. At these basketball camps they hear about the transformation and love of Jesus Christ.
Janet: From a personal, stand point, his identity before Christ was in basketball, and he got disappointed. He can only go so far with basketball. So once he met Jesus, God showed us how we could use both of those things together to go out and reach out to others.

SportsNation: Why did you choose Uganda for the camp?
Janet: Uganda chose us. (Mac agrees)
Mac: Uganda chose us. We were so blessed. We were doing this camp only in the States so a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend was doing ministry in Kenya. And so he reached out to us and told us about the ministry in Kenya and how the place had a gym. He told us how he had heard about our basketball camp and how he believes our camp can reach so many kids in Nairobi. We were invited and the ministry was so successful in Kenya. Another friend knew of pastor Robert Kayanja who lives in Kawempe, Miracle Centre and they invited us to come in 2019. We held our first camp in 2019 here in Uganda.
Janet: The moment we walked off the plane, the people are just so amazing. Ugandans are so lovely. We love it here. They are the sweetest people.
Ronnie: Can I just say, we are so thankful. We are supposed to be in Mexico. We had plane tickets for another camp in Mexico but because of COVID, the camp got canceled. And my wife said let’s go to Uganda. I thought that with this short amount of time we can’t pull it off. The Lord just did it, he opened door after door and here we are.
Janet: We went to Kenya for two days and came to Uganda.

SportsNation: Is the 1Died4All Basketball camp a permanent camp in Uganda or its a one time happening?
Ronnie: The wonderful thing about 1Died4All Basketball mission is to replicate because we can’t come every year. We would love to come every year but the mission for 1Died4All is to replicate and train up teams (plant and move) and that is why we trained our son Roland M to be able to run 1Died4All.
Janet: This is not us. This is Roland Muwanguzi who did all of this. He put out all of this. He came to our camp in 2019 and he saw how we did camp then and we challenged him if he could run a similar camp. So he was going to hold this camp if he came or not. He is so proactive and we always have contact with him; facetime, texts and calls. So we challenged him to do unto others what God has done unto him. He actually informed us that kids in Uganda were out of school till January. So we challenged him to hold one 1Died4All camp. He stood up to the challenge and did all of this.

SportsNation: What lessons has basketball taught you?
Ronnie: Where do we start?
Janet: It has given us the opportunity to go places and meet people that we would never have met. It has also showed us the value of hardwork, commitment, teamwork, learning to not just think about ourselves but also other people. All you may think is putting a basketball in a hoop but it’s much more than that. We feel like ambassadors not just for basketball but also Christ.
Ronnie: And I think it ties right into the name of what this camp is all about. The name comes from 2 Corinthians 5:14 “Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced one died for all”. Why would we get on a plane in America and fly all the way to Uganda? There is nothing in for us. We don’t get paid to do this. These kids don’t pay to come to camp. We have donors that have given us the funding to give to Roland to run the camp. It’s all because of the love of Christ. Christ’s love compels us to get on the plane, come to Uganda, use the platform of basketball to say, “I don’t care what situation or circumstances your going through. There is a God in heaven who created you and loves you”
Janet: What we tell people is that people may not come to the doors of the church but will come to the camp. Let it be a basketball camp, soccer, volleyball or whatever people will come and they will think that they are only going to get basketball; but we give them basketball and we give them Jesus.

SportsNation: What do you expect to grow out of the 1Died4All Basketball camp in Uganda?
Janet: We would love to see this camp go to other parts of Uganda. We know that Uganda is a big country. We would love to see it grow from Kampala maybe North, or South where God wants us to go. That’s our hearts desire.
Ronnie: We have already seen that in Kenya. We started off from Nairobi and now we branched off to a town called Eldoret and we just stopped by another town in Kenya called Nanyuki. That’s what we want to see happening here as well.
Janet: But we will always come to Kampala cos we love Kampala.

SportsNation: How was your NBA draft night when the Atlanta Hawks called you in 1982?
Janet: Draft night of 2000s is very different from the draft night of 1900s. You know how the draft is hyped up, back in 1982 that hype wasn’t there. You just sit at home and watch on the television. But it was exciting for him to be drafted.
Ronnie: That is the dream of any young man who laces his shoes up to play basketball. To hear your name be called by an NBA team. And so I was blessed and thankful. I was disappointed I didn’t make the team but thankful I got drafted.
Janet: It was actually a pivotal time in his basketball. That was his rrally first big disappointment in basketball. He worked so hard and went down to Atlanta and got cut. He wasn’t sure what was next.
Ronnie: The amazing thing through that whole story in that is that in the scriptures, David purposed in his heart to build the temple for God but God said, “David, I appreciate you bro, but your not going to build a temple, your son Solomon is going to build the temple”. I have learnt through all that process that God spoke to me. He said, “Ronnie, you won’t play in the NBA but your son is going to play:. And my son became a 2 times Champion with the Golden State Warriors( 2015 and 2017). So all that disappointment came to this joy to see my son out there on court.

SportsNation: I understand you had a spell in the European League
Ronnie: Yes, I played in France. It was short and sweet. I sustained a knee injury and just took me out of basketball.

SportsNation: If you to make an All Star 5 player time for the USA, who would you list?
Ronnie: Men – Steph Curry, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Damiard Lillard, & The Greek freak, Antetokounmpo Giannis.
Women: Candace Parker (this one is a must), Breanna Stewart, Delle Donne, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird. (You got to have Brittney Grier. I mean who doesn’t want to watch her dunk?)

SportsNation: Finally, How have you found Uganda so far?
Ronnie: Uganda is so good such that we cry everytime we leave. We leave a piece in our heart. We find it hard to answer questions when we go back to the States. All we tell them is, “Words can’t describe it. You have to come and experience it.”

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