"You go down a different path," Michael told Marcus. Jill Vrieze near a family farmstead outside Marcus, Iowa. Marcus Smart exits the silver Ford Mustang, surveys the apartment complex, and shakes his head. That’s my motivation. Fans reach out to Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) as he leaves the court after the Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 141-133 in two overtimes in an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Boston. “When you have a suicide in your family, that person’s pain ends, but that pain gets put on everybody that’s left behind,” said Jill Vrieze, Sand’s younger sister. The man did not duck, and they heard him get knocked to the ground. As head coach Brad Stevens explained on draft night, the Celtics have “absolutely fallen in love with his leadership and his work ethic, and his spirit, and the way that he goes about things.” President of basketball operations Danny Ainge added: “He plays with great fire. And the family moved into a three-bedroom ranch house in Flower Mound, a suburb west of Dallas. His death devastated his large, close-knit family and shattered this tiny community of fewer than 1,200 people in northwestern Iowa. The effect on Marcus was unmistakable. He really did.’, “People ask me today, did you ever believe Marcus would (play in the NBA)? “It was tough,” he explained. “The Boston Celtics have always stood for the ideals of equality, understanding, and respect,” they wrote. 3 and under it, it says ‘Todd’ and it has clouds around it,’’ said Smart. Marcus knew he no longer was the generous kid who as a 4-year-old gave a homeless man his coveted $20 bill, no longer the innocent child who pedaled his bike in cowboy boots to McDonald's for free burgers. In America, unfortunately, it’s not about what you know, but what you can prove. Nothing at all. – the pelting knocked the man to the ground. “When you’re raised in a small community, you’re not supposed to talk about these things. Phil comes to me right before the meeting and he says I’m ready to sign. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull). It's just not a pretty sight to try to imagine running, literally running for your life.". Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission. Undeterred, Marcus would wait up until the wee hours of the morning to make sure Michael – though at times frazzled from drugs – returned home safe. Now without Todd, the brothers found a catharsis in surrounding themselves with Todd's memory, his images and sounds. - SEPTEMBER 30: Marcus Smart, wearing a bathrobe, is interviewed during the Boston Celtics Media Day on September 30, 2019 in Canton, MA. Everything is complete. Says Marcus, "People always ask me, 'How are you so humble?' That is how remarkable the change was.". © 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. Vrieze’s brother Troy Sand, who died by suicide at age 51, farmed in the Marcus area and was involved in the family agricultural business. Iowa State University Extension recently held half-hour discussions about suicide prevention after each of 90 meetings around the state about the new federal farm bill. “It says ‘Rest In Peace’ and it has a basketball with (his) No. But this kid, transitioning from skinny to a linebacker’s body, didn’t need to get closer. "I do remember the look in Marcus' eyes," Michael says. Crisis counselors showed up the next morning, because Vrieze knew to contact a behavioral health center run by her sister-in-law. If we weren’t playing together, that’s probably where he would end up playing. Republican and Democratic voters unite on this: The election results wait is excruciating. So I raised my hand, see a few people walk up to her desk,” said Smart. And he never told his mother, but at the time she knew he needed help, an escape from that environment. But after losing Todd and nearly losing Michael, while surrounded by classmates flashing gang signs and guns on street corners, Marcus says, "I just felt really lost. Smart was soon on his way to Flower Mound. Connor, who spent the day with his father the day he killed himself, wrote rap songs: “Angel in Disguise” starts with his father’s voicemail message before the 20-year-old college student expresses disbelief over how much his life changed in one night. Together with his family for the holidays, Marcus received that gift. By the time Marcus would dribble a basketball all over the home in his boots, he had already heard all the stories from the 1980s that made him idolize Todd. Smart was almost 10 years when his brother died at the age of 33 in January 2004 following a battle with cancer that had begun 18 years earlier. All rights reserved. Marcus looked at Camellia’s sister and told her, “That’s not Todd. Camellia says Marcus only told her he was sick, not that he smoked pot. How I carry myself is a reflection of how they raised me. But he did. Elevated COVID-19 case rate pushes San Diego County ever closer to the purple tier, A second purple score next week would cause region to fall into state’s most-restrictive reopening tier, California’s COVID-19 efforts fare better than national average, but hospitalizations are rising. Protests erupt in Portland and Seattle over Trump campaign court challenges. Is this how I die? Marcus went home and got his dad's .22 caliber pistol. At the hospital, Vrieze made sure her brother’s skin, bones and tissues were donated so she could tell his sons that some good could come from this tragedy. French President Emmanuel Macron says France is reinforcing its border controls after a series of attacks that hit the country in recent weeks. Like he stepped out of the darkness to the light. m_gallery = "2014_nba_draft_celtics_first-round_picks_from_barclays_center_in_brooklyn_ny"; Mental illness previously appeared in the Sand family — one of Troy’s father’s uncles died by suicide, as well as two of his father’s cousins. But he did tell me never take any days for granted because as quickly as it was given to you, it can be taken away just as fast.’’. What can you say to that officer to justify that killing? No, I’m going to be truthful with you, no.’’. Federal judge slams U.S. It was, ‘Yes, sir. But a fascinating USA Today story last January highlighted some mistakes Smart made at a young age. “I’m just staring right at them, every last one of them like, ‘I’m right here. “It went away, but then it came back. It’s selfish,’” she said. Smart is the son of Billy Frank Smart and Camellia Smart, who died of myelodysplastic syndrome on September 16, 2018. - MARCH 6: Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) drives into Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) as the Celtics take on the Jazz at the Garden on March 6, 2020 in Boston, . So it was weird the moment I stepped in. The coaches came and told them to get back, calm down, a couple of guys walked back into the locker room. A fighter’s mentality might help, but in some cases it does nothing to stop the onslaught of pain and devastation. Few know how his childhood fueled his competitiveness and shaped his self-effacing persona. All rights reserved (About Us). His death hit Marcus hard. He slammed another kid's head into the concrete. “I could count on two hands the number of Black kids at the time. Marcus took anger management classes, which he says helped a great deal. All rights reserved (About Us). “Marcus went to see Todd at the hospital, but Todd had already died. Farmers also typically spend most of the day by themselves, isolated in rural areas where there is easy access to guns but little access to mental health services. No, sir.’. Digital access or digital and print delivery. It was a tough time not just for me but my family.”. State Highway 143 leading into Marcus, Iowa, a town of fewer than 1,200 people. Michael became affiliated with the Bloods street gang and acted as if he had a death wish. “If y’all want Phil to come AND me to come, that’s different, but don’t offer him a scholarship for any other reason, because I know what this dude is capable of. “I think he felt like he was never enough for anybody, to keep them to stay,” said Vrieze, who is Troy’s half-sister. Marcus was bred in a close-knit family that rarely sulked despite tragedy. "You see how he thinks?" "I really don't tell people that story because what would you say? Most offered a package deal. Smart has taken hold of the NBA stage with nightly game-turning plays — only some that involve scoring. “It’s like, boom, back to that horrible gut-punched feeling that you had the minute we found out that this happened,” she said. But one day last season, in early February, Marcus brought the fight too literally. But even before getting his life back on track, he always looked out for Marcus. Three, that means a lot more. His older brother, Todd Westbrook, had already passed. States still in play and what makes them that way. She urged him to persist, and never imagined that he would consider taking his own life. Todd would have been 43 next month. "He was so depressed. Through it all, he was a gregarious presence, the life of the party, always telling jokes, sometimes bawdy. “Your neighbors know everything you do. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald), BOSTON, MA. "How would you put it? Subscribe to MassLive.com. I’m an intelligent young man, I do know how to hold an intellectual conversation, I do know how to talk, I have an exclusive vocabulary at times when I decide to use it. We went back into the meeting and told the coaches.”. 6 by the Celtics last week. It was crazy.”. He says he has firm control now over his emotions, and his coach, Travis Ford, calls him one of the most genuine players he has been around. El Paso faces a major postelection crisis: one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in America. He came, checked himself out of the hospital and played a game. He uncorked much of his anger on the football field, but his greatest emotional release came from fighting. (AP Photo/AJ Mast), BOSTON . “I’ve got to play every game like it’s my last, because for my brother it was. We’re tired of our loved ones, our brothers, our fathers, our sons being killed for nonsense, for nothing at all, with no justice being served. Michael recovered and went to the altar in church that Sunday. Marcus Smart had on headphones, and along with his Marcus High School teammates, he was stretching — and quietly smiling. SOMETHING TO PROVE: Marcus Smart drew plenty of attention during his two years at Oklahoma State. But he still came back and played even though he had a tumor behind his left eye. I was the only Black kid in every class I went to for the most part. After Todd passed away, Marcus and his friends would steal small items from local stores. We wanted Robin to be his own Batman.”. Troy would take Vrieze, 12 years his junior, fishing at a cattle water tank that had been stocked with catfish and mullet. Marcus says now. Your California Privacy Rights / Privacy Policy. After doctors first detected cancer in him, Todd fought the disease on and off for the last 18 years of his life. During a one-month binge of cocaine abuse, Michael snorted so much on one occasion that he toppled over in the home and hurt his eye. © 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. Anger boiled while confronting a neighborhood south of Dallas he called a war zone amid duplexes. “Very wrong.”, “But he learned from it. He ran afoul of two teachers in eighth grade, a brother and sister, and one day walked out of the latter’s class.

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