Now that the trade of shooting star Kyrie Irving from the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics has been completed and an introductory press conference has been scheduled for Friday, I feel compelled to do a little name-dropping. Who knows, maybe this will convince Kyrie to move to Wellesley, where Boston Swell-tics brass GM Danny Ainge and coaches Brad Stevens and Micah Shrewsberry already reside (not that a 25-year-old guy like Irving necessarily wants to live here even though Wellesley home prices would be chump change to him and his $17M+ a year salary).
Dating myself, I went to school with Kyrie’s dad at Boston University back in the day. In fact, I was Drederick Irving’s resident assistant. Drederick (we all pronounced his name Deadrick) was the least of my worries as an RA in a jock dorm in which certain student-athletes were known to terrorize anyone with authority. Drederick was a good guy and diligent student who raved about his mom, who raised him and his siblings in the Bronx. He was also a heck of a basketball player, and he rightfully carried himself with ample swagger. I had the misfortune of matching up against Dred in a few pickup games because we were both “the tall guys”, though also had the pleasure of watching him play for the Terriers and finish his career as the team’s all-time leading scorer.
I kept in touch with Drederick in the first few years after I graduated, as I was working as a sportswriter for BU’s alumni publications. But I regrettably lost track of him once he headed to Australia to play pro basketball.
Drederick popped up on my radar years later as a LinkedIn connection. Curious to see what he’d been up to, I then realized he was No. 1 NBA draft pick Kyrie Irving’s dad. But there was a lot more to Drederick’s story. He tragically lost his wife Elizabeth, the mother of Kyrie and his sister, to sepsis when she was 29 and the kids were 4 and 5. Drederick, who worked on Wall Street and was one of those who scrambled for their lives when the planes struck the twin towers on 9/11, raised his children with the help of family.
For those upset by the loss of Isaiah Thomas and his Celtics heroics, and concerned that Kyrie lacks the same sort of heart, I’d argue that the new #11 for the Green has plenty of it. How else to explain where he’s at today considering all that has happened with his family?
Fast forward to 2013 in Las Vegas, where I found myself attending a tech trade show and an exclusive after-party at which Kyrie was a guest. I eagerly approached him and uttered “Drederick Jr!” He immediately got it, and pressed me to share stories about his dad after I explained my relationship. Kyrie then sent me away with autographed photos for my kids, which I feel much better about them displaying in their rooms now that Irving is on the Celtics and not the Cavs.