International basketball star returns

By Meghan Finlayson


Live your lives without boundaries, said international basketball player and University alum JR Holden ’98, who led the Russian Olympic Team to Beijing and has been rated as one of the top five influential Americans to have played overseas.

Holden came to the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore to promote and sign his book “Blessed Foosteps,” which documents his incredible professional international basketball career, this past Homecoming Weekend on Oct. 22. 

Holden was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. and began playing basketball at age eight. Patrick Flannery, former basketball coach at the University, recruited Holden in 1994. Holden attended and played basketball at the University, graduating in 1998. He had an incredible career and was inducted into the University Hall of Fame in 2008. Although he always dreamed of playing in the NBA, he went on to play professional basketball in Europe. He has lived in Latvia, Belgium, Greece and Russia, where he currently resides and plays. He threw the game-winning basket to beat Spain, giving Russia its first gold medal in the 2007 FIBA European Basketball Championship.

“He is a great person: sincere, honest, bright and talented. Totally motivated to succeed … we have remained close friends,” Flannery said.

Holden’s recently published memoir serves as a tribute to perseverance and faith. He wrote it for his daughter, and it has become a national hit. The memoir also is said by many to have the potential to become a film. 

“Hard work and dedication will pay off when times get tough,” Holden said. It took a lot of both to get where he is today. The book follows Holden’s journey in the development of his professional career.

“There are many messages that one can take [from the book],” Holden said. “One: that living life without boundaries could be the key to your success, and two: that when it’s all said and done, you have to be able to look in the mirror and know that you did everything you could to reach your own personal greatness.”

“The book should motivate, inspire and allow people to dream,” Flannery said. 

Holden’s memoir seemed to be well-received by students.

“It is great to hear about what the alumni achieve, and I was happy I got the chance to meet [Holden] and hear about the book,” Tara McCann ’13 said. 

Holden offered some last words of advice to athletes and University students. 

“Enjoy this time at school. This could be the last time you pursue your passion with no boundaries … and believe in yourself enough to know that anything you want in life is attainable,” Holden said.

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