After hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves, D’Angelo Russell was mobbed by his teammates. Immediately after however, he ran into the stands, embracing his brothers in a hug among the fans.
Unbeknownst to just about everyone in attendance, and watching the game at home, Russell’s grandmother had passed away Sunday morning. He told the world in a post-game interview while trying his best not to get choked up, but it was obviously an emotional moment.
After finding out the news, Russell originally didn’t plan on playing in the game, but eventually he changed his mind:
“I knew that’s what my grandma would have wanted. My dad, brothers, and everyone wanted me to play. I wanted to get away from basketball. I didn’t want to express myself through basketball but it was the only option I had and I tried to take advantage of it.”
Head coach Luke Walton tried his best to sum up the special moment for Russell under the tough circumstances:
“How awesome for him on such a tough day where obviously basketball is nothing in the big picture of what he’s dealing with. With the death of a family member that’s, from talking to him, very close and a very big part of their family. Boy, to see him run and jump into the crowd and find his family. What a special moment.”
Dealing with the death of a family member is an extremely tough thing to do and to have to do so while playing a game in front of thousands of screaming fans is even more difficult. Russell struggled shooting throughout most of the game, but came up big when it mattered most.
The Lakers coming up with their fourth straight win may not bode well for their draft lottery odds, but all of that falls in the background on a night like this for the second-year guard.
**All quotes obtained by Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters unless otherwise noted**