Celtics Coach Misses Game to Visit Cancer-Stricken Player

Brad Stevens AP

Brad Stevens missed a big game for a big reason.

The Boston Celtics traveled to Chicago to take on the Bulls at the United Center Thursday night. Before they lost the game 101-92, the Celtics lost their coach.

Instead of roaming the sideline, Brad Stevens sat bedside visiting former player Andrew Smith. The center played for Stevens at Butler. He now suffers from cancer.

Smith’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma took a turn for the worse recently. Rather than go to Chicago with his current players, Stevens opted to take a detour to Indiana to visit a former player.

Smith played on two Final Four teams for Stevens at Butler. In 2013, he received Academic All-American second-team honors and briefly competed professionally in Lithuania. But a bump discovered on his neck ended his pro basketball career and eventually began his chemotherapy. Atop cancer, Smith suffered a heart attack and went into a four-day coma. But the Butler alum continues to fight like a Bulldog.

“I’m not on this earth to go out and play basketball games,” Smith told CBS Sports last year. “I’m on this earth to share a story people can hear. Before this, I was born [to a] Christian family, went to Butler, a Christian school. There were never any tests. I’ve kind of felt like this was my answer to my prayer even if it’s obviously not what I wanted. Our faith gives everything that happened last year a purpose.”