Bill Rieser grew up on the streets of a small Italian neighborhood in the midst of East Harlem. He had an extraordinary gift to play basketball. In an attempt to escape the reality of the hurts in his life, Bill’s gift to play basketball became his identity. His 44-inch vertical leap, and his ability to dunk a basketball any way he chose, afforded him legendary status on basketball courts in New York City. It also afforded him major college recruitment opportunities. Bill had a pro basketball agent going into college and it seemed his story was already written – Bill Rieser was destined for the NBA.
Bill’s dream of playing in the NBA never materialized. Internal scars from his childhood, along with repeated physical injuries and a poor attitude, caused his NBA ambitions to become de-railed. A story with a seemingly pre-determined outcome was destroyed, and so was Bill Rieser’s identity.
Bill spent the next 15 years of his life building resentment and blaming others for all that had gone wrong. A fast and furious lifestyle was Bill’s attempt to cover up his pain. His life of drugs, alcohol and women caused Bill to spiral out of control. Facing total devastation and the loss of his family and health, the truth was exposed to his wife.
God intervened, as grace and forgiveness opened Bill’s eyes to a God that loved him, despite all that he had done. As his wife offered forgiveness and an invitation for Bill to accept Jesus, he took that leap of faith.
A 180-lifestyle change was in order as Bill surrendered everything to Christ. Bill’s old dreams were focused on basketball nets. Today, there are still nets involved…but they are very different and much more important ones. Bill has become a fisher of men and he is passionate about filling these proverbial nets with souls. He loves to tell others how God’s mercy extends to each of us, regardless of the depth, darkness and power of the struggle.
Bill’s perspective comes from a place of personal experience and God uses that to draw others into relationship with Him and to give them hope. Bill shares his story as a way to re-mind others that God is faithful. No matter the past – God has a future.
This is a story of how God reached down and lifted a broken man out of broken circumstances and re-defined his Vertical Leap. The net gain is eternal.
Bill's website is: www.billrieser.com
"I’ve been stirred by Bill’s infectious enthusiasm for the Lord, the sincerity of his commitment to Him, and the day-to-day faith he exhibits—all based on the simplest, yet most profound truth out there: ‘Just take Him at His Word.’ Every time we’re together, I’m renewed in my commitment to do just that—and I thank Bill as my brother and friend for keeping that front and center." - Steve Lyon, Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher, Moody Publishers