A former Iowa high school star, Jayden, was raised in a devout Catholic family that has long held a special place in his heart.
His father, David, is a pastor, while his mother, Laura, is an evangelical Christian.
“I always felt very connected to God,” Jayden told National Geographic.
“It was always a connection.
I felt like I was on a journey.”
His upbringing also helped shape his basketball career, which has been punctuated by trips to the NBA and the NBA Finals.
The Jayden story began when his family moved to Oklahoma City, Okla., in 1996 to join his mother and father.
He was 6 years old, and his mother moved from Kansas to Omaha, Neb., for the summer.
After a few months in the Midwest, Jayda moved to Iowa and stayed there for three years.
Eventually, her family relocated to Chicago, where they lived in an old house.
Then, in 1998, the couple moved back to Oklahoma and became parents to Jayden and his younger brother, Eli.
At the time, the family’s faith was strong, and it seemed like a good fit.
“When you grow up with the family and the faith of your faith, you feel very connected with God,” Eli told National Magazine in 2010.
His parents are both active in the local Baptist church, where he was baptized and became a member.
David is a well-known speaker on church issues and has worked with his son in the past.
While the family moved from Oklahoma to Omaha in 1998 for Jayden’s senior year, his older brother Eli was born the next year.
In 2010, Eli spoke to the National Geographic program on the future of American education.
A family history of faith, Eli told the magazine, made it a natural fit for his son.
“We were raised very devoutly Catholic and our parents were a good example of the kind of person they were,” Eli said.
“They wanted to lead a good life and they were very concerned about what was happening to their kids.”
“It wasn’t a surprise to me, but it’s also not surprising to me that when you have a family, they’re very supportive of that,” David said.
As an athlete, Eli was an athletic powerhouse.
He averaged 12.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game in his career.
But he also was a devout Christian, and he often said he was a good role model.
“I would say to myself, I could be better at everything,” Eli once said.
He was baptized in a Catholic church in Iowa, which he said he considered his home.
Though Eli has never gone to church, he said his family was close to his churchgoing, and when his mother asked him to give a sermon on his upcoming trip, Eli refused.
“My mom called the priest and asked him, ‘Is this for your own benefit?'”
Eli said, “And he said, ‘I’m not giving a sermon for your benefit.
This is for the community.'”
He then asked the priest to remove his shirt and let him preach instead.
“And I said, I’m sorry, but I have a shirt on,” Eli recalled.
It was only a matter of time before the priest noticed Eli was a convert, and the couple became increasingly frustrated with him.
“He was so confused that he was going to be preaching about his religion to me,” Eli’s mother, Lillian, told National magazine.
“And I told him that this is not going to happen.
You can’t preach to me on the topic of religion.
This doesn’t matter.”
But the couple never had much faith in the pastor.
They said that as the family grew, Eli’s religious views grew more and more extreme.
Over the years, Eli had to learn how to live his life as a devout Muslim.
When Eli was 14 years old and a few years older, he joined the Islamic State, a radical Sunni group that was fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Like other Muslim recruits, he was forced to convert to Islam and join the extremist group.
Since then, Eli has been in the midst of his fight against ISIS.
With the help of a local Muslim preacher, he has been able to keep his faith and focus on his work, which includes recruiting and training other Muslim fighters in the U.S. This past year, Eli is part of a national effort to train and equip Muslim fighters and their families.
And Eli, along with a group of Muslim fighters, recently helped a group fight ISIS in the eastern city of Palmyra, Syria.
After their fight, the fighters, led by the American-born fighter Muhammad “Zakariya,” were awarded the