Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge Talks NBA, Family, and Church

It was April 16, 2009. Ainge, the 50-year-old general manager of the Boston Celtics, had not been taking care of himself. His responsibilities were exhausting him. If he had been alone, without the help of someone who loved him, would he be alive?

“So I guess I was glad that my wife was there, and she had the foresight to give me a little nudge,” he says. “Because I probably wouldn’t have gone on my own.’
He was going to have to make sense of his own life if he was going to keep doing right by everyone who was counting on him — his family, his loved ones and friends, the Celtics and their owners and employees and fans, and the Mormon church, which had been honoring him with ever-increasing roles of leadership over the years. What was most important? What was he trying to accomplish?

He had been successful in every phase of his life.

Those successes were now threatening to kill him.

Overweight and overwhelmed and vulnerable to his family history of heart disease, the GM needed to create a strategy for himself. One conversation that helped him begin to make sense of his own riddle was launched by Austin Ainge, the eldest son of his six children, who was working with him in the Celtics’ front office and who had seen his father wearing down beneath his neverending to-do lists.

“When I had the heart attack, his thought was, ‘What are you doing being a Bishop? You’ve got to stop that. You’ve got too much going on,”’ says Ainge, who in 2008 had been promoted to Bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “In my perspective it was the exact opposite. If I need to stop anything, it was not being Bishop. It was everything else.”

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