Brad Stevens Missed Coaching A Celtics Game To Visit A Former Player With Cancer

If you watched Thursday night’s game between the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics, you may have noticed that Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was absent on the sideline. He wasn’t sick or injured, however — he missed the game for a profoundly sad, yet special reason. Andrew Smith, who played under Stevens at Butler during their run to two-consecutive Final Fours, is battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has taken a turn for the worse. Stevens went to be with Smith in Indiana.

Smith’s wife Samantha tweeted this on Monday to illustrate the gravity of the situation.

We feel for Smith and are hoping for him to battle back like everyone else. As for Stevens, it speaks to the kind of coach and man that he is that he would take the time out of his schedule to go see one of his kids (and to college coaches, they’re always your kids) — especially when the game he missed was against a big Eastern Conference rival. Sometimes people just matter more than the game.

The 6-foot-11 Smith graduated from Butler in 2013, and was playing professionally in Lithuania before his diagnosis in 2014. He’s only 25, and hopefully he’s got a lot of life ahead of him.