Wright keeps late father in mind 2 years after father’s death, plays on as Pittsburgh guard

first_imgTen seconds passed. Then 15. Then 20. Derek Jackson still didn’t know what to say into the phone.What do you say to your best friend — practically a brother — when his father dies? Jackson couldn’t find words for Cameron Wright. “That silence, I can still hear it to this day,” Jackson said. “Whenever I think about that, I still don’t know what to say. I was just devastated and it hurt Cam so bad. I just tried to be there for him.”They tried to talk about Kevin, Wright’s father, but mostly they just cried. Wright, now a senior playing for Pittsburgh, keeps his father’s memory with him every day following his death due to brain cancer in 2012.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe remembers the man who touched so many lives that it seemed the whole city of Cleveland came to his funeral. He remembers the man who moved his whole family from Cleveland to Pittsburgh just to watch every one of his son’s college games, and the man who made Wright and Jackson laugh uncontrollably while he drove them to all their AAU games since grade school.Wright has battled through injuries this season — he missed Pitt’s first seven games with a broken foot — to become the team’s fourth-leading scorer at 9.1 points per game. He also paces Pitt in steals. When Syracuse (17-9, 8-5 Atlantic Coast) hosts the Panthers (17-10, 6-7) at noon on Saturday, Wright will dedicate his game — as he dedicates every game — to his father.“My dad, he used to say, ‘One day you’ll be the man of the house’ but I would never listen to it,” Wright said. “It happened that day and a sense of maturity came about instantly.”Wright seldom talks about his father. Instead, he tries to provide stability for his mother, Cheryl, and his sister, Kristin. Jackson — who was practically a part of Wright’s family growing up — often stayed there for months at a time during the summer. On a wall in his off-campus apartment at Kent State, a picture of Kevin’s obituary still hangs for Jackson to see every morning. “How Cam handled it, normal people wouldn’t handle it that way,” Jackson said. “He handled it real mature. He knew it was coming, but it still hurt him real bad. So I, you know, motivated him. I said, ‘Now you gotta do this for your father. Every day, when you don’t want to do nothing, think of your dad and do what he’d want you to do.’”Jackson hasn’t seen Wright more than 10 times since the funeral, but the two still talk often. Jackson thinks Kevin is always on Wright’s mind, but he rarely brings it up. But he discusses the things he used to talk with his father about with Rob Stircula, his oldbasketball coach at Benedictine (Ohio) High School. “I told him his dad would be proud of the way he came back for his senior season,” Stircula said. “He could’ve gone in the tank with the injury, but he didn’t. He kept everything positive.” Ever since Stircula recruited Wright to Benedictine in eighth grade, he has been a fatherfigure. Someone he can depend on forever, Wright said.Stircula has attended six or seven Pitt games this season, he said, and about 30 in total. The two of them talk about Kevin a little, but mostly they discuss basketball. The two break down Wright’s game. “Work on your footwork there,” Stircula says, “improve your shot, get to your spots and stay low.”Stircula analyzes Wright’s game the way his father used to.It’s been two years, three months and 11 days since Kevin died. Wright has carried Kevin with him every day since.His tattoo, which he got soon after his father’s death, curls around his right bicep. The script says “Rest in Paradise” along with the date, Nov. 9, 2012. He writes “FMF” on his shoes before most games, which represents “For My Father“ and then underlines the last “F“ for family. He references him occasionally on social media. “I think about my dad every day, all day, on the court, off the court,” Wright said. “Not a second goes by that I don’t think about my father.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 20, 2015 at 12:14 am Contact Sam: [email protected] | @Sam4TRlast_img read more