Former NBA star Amar'e Stoudemire. (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

Six-time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire, who calls himself “culturally Jewish” and talks about living the Scriptures in the holy land, has taken his love for Israel to the next level, signing a two-year contract to play basketball for the Jerusalem Hapoel basketball team. He and his family will move to Jerusalem later this month.

Stoudemire played on NBA teams for 14 years before retiring in July. However, the 33-year is not done with basketball. He is looking forward to playing with Hapoel, and says the opportunity to play his sport in Israel is “a dream come true.”

The athlete has owned a small stake in the team since 2013, but his ties to Israel go even further back: in 2010, Stoudemire visited the country after discovering some Jewish roots and immediately connected. He has a tattoo of a Jewish star and started learning Hebrew on his 2010 trip.

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The decision to move to Israel, he said, was based not only on professional considerations, but on his desire for the heightened spirituality which he can feel in Jerusalem.

“It’s a spiritual journey for us as well,” said the six-foot-ten athlete at press conference after announcing the move. “Playing with [Hapoel] Jerusalem allows me to take care of both, from a spiritual journey and also being able to continue my professional career.”

“The Scripture speaks about Jerusalem as a holy place, and I can feel that whenever I’m in the city,” he wrote in a post on The Player’s Tribune. “This is a chance for me to be a better husband and a better father, to help me lead my family into righteousness.

“The opportunity to play there, and grow as a player and person, is a blessing.”

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Source: Israel in the News