There's a reason the Nets players this season are seen as character guys. They've been through a lot and survived, then succeeded. Reading through their life stories, there is a litany of family tragedies, mostly while young
Three players lost their mothers while in their teens: Donald Sloan, Markel Brown and Thomas Robinson.
Brown lost his mother to a brain aneurysm when he 14. Three months later, his uncle, the role model in his life, died heroically while saving two women from a fire in Louisiana.
Robinson lost in order, his maternal grandmother, maternal grandfather and mother in a month when he was at Kansas. At one point he wouldn't answer his cell if the call was from home. After that, the Morris twins' mother helped raise him. It was so devastating, ESPN profiled his litany of his tragedies.
Wayne Ellington's father was murdered, executed really, last year in Philadelphia by a man who asked him to pull over, then shot him through the drivers side window.. The alleged killer is awaiting trial.
Quincy Miller lost his sister to a car accident in 2005 when he was 12 and she was 17. Three other close family members died in 2011, when he was in high school.
As Thaddeus Young, who lost his nephew in a car accident two years ago, then his mother to breast cancer last year says, it's devastating professionally as well as personally. 'Let's just get today over with and get to the next day."
Of all of the Nets' players tragedies, Young's is the most recent and perhaps the saddest. As Mike Mazzeo writes Monday Young got to the hospital just in time last November 13. (Ellington's father had been killed four days earlier).
"It was like she was waiting for me to get there," Young said. "I grabbed her hand, and of course I was very emotional, I was crying. I was hugging her. I could feel her take her last breath. She smiled at me, and then you just hear the [hospital] buzzer going off and she passed away. Just like that."
Young once again had to take a brief leave of absence to grieve. Nearly a year to the day he lost his "brother," how he refers to his nephew, he had lost his mother.
Brooklyn is now his refuge, Young tells Mazzeo, it's a place where he and his young family can grow. Ellington chose the Nets to be close his family in Philly. T-Rob is close to Washington, D.C., where his teenaged sister goes to school.
Indeed, the NBA is filled with stories of players getting beyond tragedy and poverty --and the interconnection between them. It doesn't make them better than their counterparts but it does mean they are worthy of an extra cheer, an extra clap, an extra bit of support. They deserve it.
- After heartbreak, Thaddeus Young builds anew in Brooklyn - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York