GREEN KEEPS ON FIGHTING
Every game New Orleans Hornets guard Willie Green tries to make an impact, but at the same time he continues to cope with the death of his sister and cousin.
New Orleans Hornets guard Willie Green said: 'I try to play the game the right way, respectful to my teammates and coaches even when times are tough. This is a privilege.'
Tamara Lynette Green, 30, and Ben Green, 27, were killed in an automobile accident Dec. 19 after watching Green play against the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Police found Tamara trapped inside the car, and Ben was thrown about 100 feet after the sports utility vehicle he was driving slammed roof first into a tree off the interstate near Detroit.
Green still has flashbacks, recalling how his sister used to tell him how proud she was to see him fulfill his dream playing in the NBA. Green still recalls thoughts of his cousin, Ben, trying to follow in his footsteps playing at the University of Detroit Mercy, where Green starred.
With a support group that extends from his hometown of Detroit to New Orleans and includes his wife, extended family, friends, teammates and coaches, Green continues to struggle with the tragedy.
Green has asked himself repeatedly why they were taken so suddenly, and he still wakes up in the middle of the night devastated.
“It’s not something I’m over with,’’ Green said. “It’s something I continue to deal with. It’s tough losing someone close to you. I never thought I would lose two people that close to me just like that.
“Every day I wake up, it could be something small, but I think about it. I think back to when were younger and when we grew up.’’
Green said he often asks himself what they would be doing if they were alive. He plays as if they still are cheering.
“I wish they were still here,’’ Green said. “I wish I could talk to them, but some things are out of our control. I know there is nothing I could have done to bring them back, but I realize life is precious. Kiss and hug your kids because you never know when the last time you are going to see them.’’
After the accident, Green went back to Detroit to be with his family, missing five games after the Hornets granted him an extended leave of absence.
“He’s been through tough situations this year, but at the same time he’s been one of the rocks on our team,’’ New Orleans Coach Monty Williams said. “Guys look up to him. He’s always stayed the course.’’
Green said his family tragedy has given him a greater sense to not take anything for granted. He appreciates practicing; he appreciates the games, the friendship established over an eight-year NBA career that included seven seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers before he was traded to the Hornets this past summer.
“I try to play the game the right way, respectful to my teammates and coaches even when times are tough,’’ Green said. “This is a privilege. We have some of the best jobs in America. I don’t take it for granted. No matter what level you’re on, you still have to continue working.’’