NBA Ironman Proud to Be a Virgin Until 38

ByABC News via logo

Oct. 29, 2002 -- Basketball great A.C. Green is best known for two things. One is his ironman record of playing in 1,192 consecutive games spanning 16 seasons.

The other is inevitably, if a little disrespectfully, also called an endurance record — remaining a virgin until he married earlier this year at the age of 38.

For years, Green has been an active campaigner for sexual abstinence — and he practiced what he preached.

He recently celebrated his six-month wedding anniversary, and told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America that everything was worth the wait.

"It is definitely worth waiting," Green said. "When you marry the right person at the right time have you no regrets. For me, I have nothing but smiles on my face."

Even though his wait lasted decades, Green said he's found other things harder to wait for. "It was harder waiting for the NBA championship than for the marriage to take place," he said.

Green was a member of the 2000 Los Angeles Lakers championship team, starting in all six games of the finals, and a member of the Lakers' 1987 and 1988 back-to-back championship teams.

Green says a large part of his happiness stems from his bride, Veronique.

"I'm looking forward to the life I have," he said. "It wasn't just the act of getting married. It's the woman I have. Veronique is the woman of my life."

Green and his wife were friends for a long time before getting married. He says she knew about his campaign before they became romantically involved, and believed in it herself.

But, he says, he was unaware that she knew. "I was happily surprised in that," he said.

"She was encouraging. She found a man who took a stand, control himself, have discipline and more importantly have a lot of self-respect."

The Big Question

For those who ask why it's so important to remain a virgin, Green has an answer ready. "You need to have self-respect, values and a little bit of virtue in your life," he said.

"I practiced [abstinence] until marriage that was the end of the rainbow in a sense," he said. "There's always a happy ending. More importantly, you feel better about yourself."

He recognizes sometimes kids have already made the decision to be sexually active, but noted, "It's never too late to start practicing abstinence or remain in that mode."

Green also knows there are critics who say teaching abstinence doesn't work and that it's better to teach safe sex. Green says he has put together a curriculum called "game plan" to address that issue.

"I think it's very good to educate kids and explain to them all the options out there and let them make decisions, but my thought has always been to really give the kids the best decision and not just a good one," he said.

"It's good to educate them, but give them the best choice and abstinence is only the 100 percent best way to good and safe sex."

The Reward for Years of Kidding

Green says he's taken a lot of kidding for his campaign. "The first year with the Laker team my rookie season, I tell everybody across the country, they took bets out," he said.

Green recalls people telling him: "There's no way you will be talking abstinence, no way you will remain a virgin. None of that's possible. Once you see what's going inside the NBA, in the league, you will do everything because these girls are beautiful."

But he remained true to his word. "After about six months the guys realized I was very serious, I was committed and dedicated and had the discipline to get the job done," he said.

Green said he's reaping the rewards today. "True enough, most of the guys have come back after the years of time now. Sixteen years later [and] now they are saying, 'You know what, I sort of wish I would have rethought some of my decisions, or else I wouldn't be in the situation now.'"

And some of the accolades not only come from looking back at the past, but looking toward the future as well.

"I get more of a reaction for people saying 'Way to go, good job,'" he said. "I am so happy I can actually tell my kids about someone and point them in a direction and tell them, you need to follow after that man, and you can wait because it is possible."