Story about Horry's daughter - sort OT

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Woofer, May 23, 2002.

  1. Woofer

    Woofer Contributing Member

    Oct 10, 2000
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    You need to be member to use the link. Sad story, he must think the Rockets are pretty bad to not want to come back last year.

    No Place Like Home
    Robert Horry's heart is with his family in Houston, where his stricken young daughter brings aches and joy.

    By TIM BROWN, Times Staff Writer

    HOUSTON -- The parking lot at the Pediatric Therapy Center in southwest Houston is full, drive-around-the-lot-looking-for-a-space full, like the mall at Christmas time.

    The PTC does a brisk business in all seasons.

    The children, even the older ones, hold tight to their mothers' hands without embarrassment. When they leave the shade of the lot, many involuntarily lift their faces to the sun, which is warming in the late morning, headed to nearly 90, with a light breeze.

    For all of the pictures of animals on the walls and the cartoons on the televisions, for all the smiles and encouragement from the therapists and doctors, this place is hard work for the children who walk in, or are carried in.

    Ashlyn Horry used to sit in the back seat of her mother's car and refuse to get out. Then she would start to cry, and so would her mother, and there they'd be, Keva Horry pleading, Ashlyn Horry refusing, while other mothers in other minivans stopped behind them and wondered if they were coming or going.

    Those were the moments when Keva Horry wondered too.

    "This is life," she said without regret. "I'm dealing with it."


    Ashlyn is 8. Her father, Robert, plays power forward for the Lakers. On Monday night, Robert had 20 rebounds in Sacramento, where the Lakers lost Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Ashlyn is standing frightfully near the top of a four-rung ladder. A physical therapist holds her around the waist, and while the ladder teeters, she hands her a stuffed ball. With help, Ashlyn pushes the ball with two hands over the front of a plastic yellow hoop, and the ball falls through, lands on a blue mat and rolls across the floor.

    "She scores!" the therapist cries. "Yeah!"

    Across the room, Keva Horry claps. Ashlyn throws back her head and smiles. Her eyes joyously turn to slits and her arms and legs go stiff. When she opens her eyes, Ashlyn finds her mother.

    Keva picks up the blue ball and rolls it back, her first rebound of the afternoon.

    "There's a pride now because I'm seeing things the doctors didn't expect her to do," Keva says. "That gives me hope."

    As the Horrys understand it, Ashlyn, their first child, was born without part of her first chromosome. They've never asked for the name of what she has, because it has never seemed important. She cannot yet speak or walk or eat, and there is no guarantee she ever will.

    "One doctor told me it's a freak of nature," Keva said.

    Ashlyn spent her first six months in the hospital, and she has been back often.

    She can cover ground with the help of a four-wheeled walker, but it's a dicey transport without brakes. She leans forward and the walker rolls and suddenly she's nearly at a full run down the sidewalk, sending her parents after her with a mix of amusement and terror.

    Ashlyn eats mostly through a tube in her stomach. An IV stand sits in a corner of her lavender-colored bedroom on the first floor of the family's home, beside her bed.

    For three years she had a tracheotomy, allowing her to breath. Complications arose, as they often did then, and Ashlyn had her epiglottis—the flap that covers the windpipe during swallowing—removed, making eating a challenge.

    Half of Tuesday's two-hour therapy session at PTC was spent in a tiny back room, where a kind woman named Judy Boshart dabbed baby food from a Dixie cup to Ashlyn's lips.

    When Ashlyn swallowed or simply tried, she would get as reward a song or two from a nearby tape recorder, and Miss Judy would call her "Sugar Bear" or "Boo" and blow soapy bubbles and ask Ashlyn to pop them. So, Ashlyn sat in a wooden chair, vanilla pudding on her lips, jerking her head away from a plastic spoon, listening to Barney sing, "Do You Know the Muffin Man?"

    Boshart pulled her face close to Ashlyn's, and rested her own cheek on the top of the little girl's head as Keva looked on."Ashlyn's a people person," she says. "She loves people. They don't always understand. But she doesn't care."

    Boshart understands, and Ashlyn seems to know that. Boshart called Ashlyn's ailment "a neurological syndrome that mimics cerebral palsy" in some regards.

    The prognosis, she said, "Guarded. Somewhat guarded. It's been so touch and go with this baby. She was so sick."


    The little girl might never become what others are.

    That's OK.

    Others become what she is, joyfully.

    Keva Horry sat in her television room Tuesday afternoon as workers, with ladders and extension cords over their shoulders, continue to plod through the two-story Mediterranean-style home in Houston's posh West Chase neighborhood.

    There are peacocks in the yard.

    "Not ours," Keva says. "They belong to the community."

    Apparently, they like the Horry's place best. Robert and Keva had it built, and have been in it for about a year. The home is stunning, even set against the other grand and gated homes on the same leafy street.

    On the television, turned to the channel that brings up nine security cameras in the house, Camron, 3, plays with a babysitter in segment four. Palm trees wave in the front yard in segment five. Ashlyn, exhausted from her therapy, sleeps in segment one. She often falls asleep on the way home.

    The room is quiet and bright. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame a large backyard, which has a pool, a wooden jungle gym, a basketball court and a pool house. When Ashlyn and Camron play in the yard, Keva sometimes will stand in this room, behind those windows, and marvel at what her little girl has become, the ability she has to change people.

    "She just kind of brings everybody to her level," Keva says. "Like, 'Hello, this is what it's really all about—happiness.'"

    Keva is pretty in a Jasmine Guy, Southern-girl way. She's like Robert in that she is easy to smile in the light moments and quick to shrug in the difficult ones. She cries some, such as when Robert leaves Houston for Los Angeles for his NBA season. She met Robert when both were attending Alabama. She grew up in Tuscaloosa, Robert in nearby Andalusia, and they share the same subtle drawls.

    Keva had never seen someone so tall and thin, nor met someone as easygoing. She dated the high-profile athlete—despite her better judgment, she said—and five years ago they wed, three years after Ashlyn was born, two years before Camron, a normal child in every way, was born.

    At that moment, Camron walked into the room, held up a new pair of Nike sneakers and said, "Like Ko-mee Biant!", Kobe Bryant being his second-favorite Laker. He is his father in miniature, complete with the big eyes and high, hollow cheeks. He attends a preschool that feels like Disneyland's Main Street.

    Robert isn't around much during basketball season. The Lakers get to Houston twice a year and the family comes to Los Angeles occasionally, to a home in Marina del Rey. Moving the family to Los Angeles isn't an option. It's too vast, Keva says. The Horrys made their home here when Robert was with the Rockets. And moving would mean leaving the therapy center where Ashlyn has been going since she was 2. There are pictures of him all over the house, and he calls several times a day, Tuesday telling Keva on her cell phone as she drove home from physical therapy, "I wish I was there with you." She said, "I wish you were here too."

    "This is Robert's favorite room," Keva said, swinging open the door just off the TV room. "I'm not allowed in here, so don't tell him I showed you."

    She laughed and dragged a hand across a black velvet-lined pool table. There are half a dozen video games against one wall, a wet bar in the corner, and a movie theater through a side door. Framed NBA jerseys are leaning against a wall, waiting to be mounted.

    She thinks about him often.

    "It's like when you're first starting to date somebody all over again," she said. "I still get the butterflies. I do. I get nervous, like, 'Do I look OK?' Really. I still cry when he gets on a plane, when I drop him off for the season at the airport, I'm boo-hooing all the way home. It's been going on for so long now. If it stops, I'll start to worry.

    "It gets very lonely. My children are my life. And I miss my husband. I love him dearly and I am extremely proud of him. I want him to be happy."


    The truth is, there are times when Robert Horry feels badly for Ashlyn.

    He admires her courage and loves her determination, but those things won't allow her to chase her little brother, or catch fireflies in a jar. When her tiny cousins race each other into the backyard for one of the swings, Ashlyn sometimes sits nearby, staring.

    "There are bad days, like on the Fourth of July, when we have my brother's kids and her sister's kids," Robert said after practice Wednesday in El Segundo. "They're like kids, running around. You can tell she wants to do what they're doing, but can't. Those are the days I feel bad for her."

    It doesn't last too long, because the doorbell always rings again.

    "Everybody who knows her, they love Ashlyn like she's their child," he said. "When people come over, they're like, 'Where's my baby? Where's Ashlyn?' They get on the floor with her and hug and kiss on her as much as she can stand."

    Keva is not sure about the bad days."She's happy all the time," she said. "She doesn't know any different. That's great, and it's a peace for me. This is all she knows. She's happy, and I want to keep it that way."


    The sun has passed over the top of the house, and shadows have fallen on the living room couch, where Keva reads a children's book to Ashlyn and Camron. Though he has been forbidden to eat a cookie so near suppertime, Camron returns from the kitchen with crumbs stuck to his mouth, which Keva instantly notices.

    Ashlyn is blissful beside her mother, listening to her voice and staring sweetly at the pages. She tries to hug her brother, who pushes her away.

    Unbowed, Ashlyn pulls him closer. He groans and Keva laughs and kisses Ashlyn.

    It is life. And they are dealing with it.

    "I don't know what the reason is just yet," Keva said. "I do on a daily basis try to figure it out. It's not a 'Why me?' thing anymore. It used to be. It was very hurtful for the first year. I know her little life has a purpose. She has a destiny like everybody else. Maybe she's here for me. Maybe it's for Robert. Maybe that's it.

    "The thing is, I never felt like the weight of the world was on me. You just do it. Before I knew it, we were here."

    It's not a bad place. Ashlyn brings them little hardships and she brings them huge joy. Maybe she doesn't know it, but they're sure she does. They choose to believe she does.

    "She kind of does that on a daily basis," Keva said. "Milestones. The little accomplishments that, for her, are huge. It happens every day."
    1 person likes this.
  2. Miggidy Markell

    May 29, 2000
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    I got a tear in my eye... :(
  3. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

    Oct 5, 1999
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    Me too

    Man . . I've always been a BOB "THE HOUSTON HORROR" Horry fan

    Now I'm a Ashlyn Horry fan too.

    Rocket River
  4. Deckard

    Deckard Contributing Member

    Mar 28, 2002
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    Thanks, Woofer. That's both sad and uplifting... I'm going to go hug my kids. Thank God they're healthy (knock on wood.). I wish he was still playing for us. It would have made things much better for him and for the Rockets as well.:(
  5. vj23k

    vj23k Contributing Member

    Jul 11, 2000
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    Forget about any help Robert could provide the team, I want to bring him home to be close to his family.
  6. R0ckets03

    R0ckets03 Contributing Member

    Nov 11, 1999
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    Same here...:( :(

    I've met Horry a couple of times and he is awesome. Always smiling and never refuses an autograph. He still is and always will be one of my most favorite athletes. I hope everything turns out okay for his family.
  7. JBIIRockets

    JBIIRockets Contributing Member

    Jan 25, 2001
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    Horry should be a Rocket right now. he just should. He helps teams win more frequently with the little things he does.

    If the Rockets draft ming and he develops an inside game, the first thing the Rockets should do is get Horry. If Eddie Griffin deveops an inside game like he should, the first thing the Rockets should do is get Robert Horry.

    Doesn't Francis and Mobley get double teamed? I believe so, bring in Horry, his family needs him.
  8. TroyBaros

    TroyBaros "Special" Friend of Steve Francis

    Jul 30, 2001
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    I will tell you guys one thing about this he is one good father to her, he calls her every day before and after a game and when he is at away games.
    Horry would love to come home it is just a matter of time till he does.......
    Lakers would not be in the Western Conference finals if it was not for Horry's clutch shooting.
    But yes sad story but Horry feels it is in Gods hands and he will do what is right for his Baby Angel.
  9. german rocketfan

    Jul 24, 2001
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    Very sad story...

    ...i like Robert Horry very much...let's bring him home near to his family...he should be in a Rockets dress next season!

    I hate the Lakers,but if they win the championship i be happy for Robert!I really love him!BRING HIM HOME!
  10. Dave2000

    Dave2000 Contributing Member

    Aug 4, 2001
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    Yes, that was a sad story to hear. It just shows how great of a father he is. The Horrys are good people and great parents.

    Now, is Keva Horry Calvin Murphy's daughter?
  11. themugg

    themugg Member

    May 17, 2000
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    Very good story. But Keva is not Calvin's daughter, I think her name is Tiffani. He had a son with Tiffani back in 94 and got married to Keva in 97. I think?
  12. Asian Sensation

    Oct 29, 1999
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    I want Horry back too.... whether it be next year or 5 years from now I want him to retire a ROCKET.
  13. Rocket Fan

    Rocket Fan Member

    Mar 17, 1999
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    if i remember correctly he wouldnt' have minded coming back to houston last year . .but did not want to opt out of his laker contract and be unloyal to them or whatever... maybe i'm wrong. . i wonder how long he still has on his current deal
  14. drapg

    drapg Member

    Mar 18, 2002
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    wow... people tell me i'm a pretty unemotional person... but dang, even i got kinda choked up reading this!
  15. wrath_of_khan

    wrath_of_khan Contributing Member

    Jun 7, 2000
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    Here's another good piece that talks about the situation with his daughter, among other things.

    May 28, 2002
    Wake-Up Call
    by Ric Bucher
    ESPN The Magazine

    The transfusion took place in a hotel room in LA about eight years ago. Robert Horry, all of 23, was the starting small forward for Houston, the team of his dreams, barreling toward his first championship ring. It was Easter weekend, the Rockets already had 50 wins and his first child, Ashlyn, had been born the day before.

    A phone, not an IV, injected the ice into his veins. He'd never been emotional, but he didn't have the "f-- it all" attitude necessary to take and make the big shot. Then he picked up the receiver. His mother, who had been the one to tell him Ashlyn had been born, was on the line again. This time the message was different: His daughter was having problems.

    What kind of problems, he asked, already feeling a chill creeping up his arms toward his chest.

    He didn't get an answer because there wasn't one to give. Not yet. He'd find out over the next six months while making 40-mile drives to the hospital after practice, wondering if she'd make it, waiting to hear Ashlyn's first words. Words, eight years later, he's still waiting to hear.

    His mother's vague, terrifying report defined something else for him, in clear and certain terms: This NBA thing ain't nothin' but a thing.

    Says Horry, "From the moment my daughter almost didn't even make it, I realized you can't control what life hands you. I used to get nervous before that. Excited nervous, like gimmetheball-gimmetheball-gimmetheball. Hey, I love what I do, and it's important in a sense, but not compared to my family. It's just a game."

    The lesson might have faded if Ashlyn merely had had a difficult birth instead of a missing chromosome that means she may never speak or walk unaided or discard her feeding tube. An absent chromosome that turns every simple cold into a life-threatening ordeal. It might be different if Horry didn't live and work most of the year 1,500 miles away, limiting him to no more than hearing Ashlyn's labored breath over a phone during the NBA season. Hearing his wife, Keva, describe the latest Horry trait displayed by his healthy 3-year-old boy, Camron, keeps life's fickleness front and center.

    Take a shot to win or lose a game? Bury the game-winning three against the Kings with 0.2 seconds left? He knows that's just the right time, right place. After back-breakers against the Blazers and Spurs earlier this postseason, Horry was so grateful to have something within his control he said to Kobe afterward, "Thank you for trusting me."

    He's said that to a teammate after every clutch playoff shot he's made. If anyone knows it's impossible to accomplish anything alone, it's Horry.


    Horry is slouched in his locker room chair before Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Kings, watching the TV "down-eyed," as his schoolteacher mom says, peering up from under his brow, chin nearly resting on his chest. Despite his 31 years, 238 pounds and 6'10" frame, he somehow exudes the air of a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons. Which, at the moment, makes him an island of calm on an otherwise jacked-to-the-max team. A hefty bag of trash-talk already has been strewn between the two teams and now it's put-up time. Nervous energy has driven every other Laker either onto the court or into the training room. Kobe, jaw set and eyes on hyperfocus, retrieves something from his bag and disappears again. Horry, surrounded by a dozen milling media members, watches TV and stifles a yawn.

    "I don't worry about being bothered by the media," he says. "Either I'm going to talk or not talk."

    Usually he talks. Like when the Lakers were in San Antonio for Game 3 of their second-round playoff series. He watched Tim Duncan accept his MVP trophy and did a dead-on impression of Hakeem Olajuwon seeing David Robinson feted with the award before tattooing The Admiral in the '95 conference finals. Then he clarified the attire of Southern preachers vs. TV evangelists (black vs. powder-blue suits). TV drama spin-offs? He's got details. Handicap the Boston-Detroit series? He picks Boston. "Detroit is not a smart team," he says. Former teammate Kenny Smith appears on the TV screen. "He used to look like he was wearing his big brother's suits," Horry says.

    He's just as opinionated in Lakers film sessions. He explained how the team should defend Duncan in the pinch post -- halfway up the lane -- before the coaching staff could. "He's the only guy I've seen in a one-on-one situation, other than Kevin Garnett sometimes, who can give Tim problems in the post," says former Spurs forward Sean Elliott. Horry does it with trickery, poking at the ball one possession, stoutly holding his ground the next, suddenly stepping away the time after that. One second he's giving his man the jumper, the next he's herding him toward the baseline.

    "Smartest teammate I've ever had," Kobe says.

    Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is impressed with Horry's offense even though he's never averaged more than 12 points during any of his 10 seasons. Worth noting: Only once in nine times has he failed to up his regular-season average in the playoffs. "Everybody is so hung up on numbers, but I'll bet if you did stats on what he does at the end of quarters or games, it would be unbelievable," says Popovich. "He's a winner. He wins the games you need."

    If his four rings haven't earned him more recognition, blame a nonchalant 'tude and bad body language. His playoff appearances amount to almost two extra seasons' worth of games, more than any other Laker's, and at 31, are reason enough for that achy walk. But Horry would be the same if he had become a schoolteacher or joined the army, his first two career choices. His father, Staff Sergeant Robert Horry Sr., has the same gait, and so does Camron.

    True, Robert believes in economy of motion. He sits on the front of the bus with team staff to avoid the walk to the back. Projected as Scottie Pippen's taller twin because of his versatility, he passed on becoming a ballhandler because dribbling "takes too much energy." He freely gives away playing time to Lakers forwards Mark Madsen and Slava Medvedenko, unless he genuinely feels needed.

    But interpret that as laziness at your own risk. He was the first player ever to achieve 100 steals, 100 blocked shots and 100 threes in a season. He had 20 rebounds against the Kings in Game 2 of the conference finals. When a reporter recently asked why he waited until the playoffs to give 100%, Horry left the locker room in a huff. Despite his small forward's build, he has been the Lakers' best answer to losing power forward Horace Grant to free agency. He had just kept Rasheed Wallace and Duncan in check enough for the Lakers nearly to sweep both series and had CWebb looming. All that, and some pencil guy suggests to his face -- foregone conclusion and all -- that he's a loafer?

    Granted, people have mistaken Horry's cool for disinterest before. Olajuwon approached him in the middle of a game during his second season and asked, "Do you care if we win or lose?"

    "I care more than you know," Horry said.

    Keva, as boisterous as Robert is reserved, considered him an enigma at first, too. The Horrys started dating at Alabama, but the relationship appeared over until Keva's mom clandestinely asked Robert to come over and "lend her a hand." Pure ruse. Robert and Keva had a long talk and have been together ever since. "Before that, though, I was like, 'Do you care about anything?'" Keva says. "It's not that he doesn't care. He just doesn't let a lot bother him. He takes everything in stride."

    That dispassionate gaze is not disinterest, it's the stillness of someone who has witnessed too many last breaths. He knew a kid whose heart exploded in Bible study, so imagine what ran through his head when he suffered from an irregular heartbeat three years ago. A military career left his dad with night sweats, a plate and screws in his neck, a wrecked knee and tales of deadly sea snakes on China Beach. Dad's doctors jokingly suggested bigger shoes for feet blistered by Agent Orange. And then there was his best friend, who fatally shot himself in the Andalusia (Ala.) High parking lot. It was ruled a suicide, but to this day Robert believes it was an accident.

    All that is why Robert missed the Lakers' season opener two years ago to see Camron born, and last year's opener when his grandmother Zeola died. And why he seriously considered opting out of the final two years of his Lakers deal last summer to play closer to Houston, where Texas Children's Hospital offers Ashlyn unparalleled care and the Horrys have a new 14,000-square-foot home customized for her.

    He decided to stay with the Lakers, so he spends most nights in his Marina del Rey condo, watching TV and mastering the three versions of the video game Siphon Filter. He calls Keva six times a day, hearing about how Camron has to put on his Lakers shirt and make a basket before he'll go to preschool, or that Ashlyn goes as crazy as Keva while watching Dad on TV.

    He looks forward to the family joining him in LA once Ashlyn's school year ends. During the season, he doesn't hang with anybody in particular, being as likely to catch a movie with a Lakers assistant PR director as with Brian Shaw. He's so low-key that Kobe snorts when asked for an example of Horry emoting: "I don't have one," he says.

    Horry, rummaging through a lifetime, has three.

    Happiness: sweeping the Magic for the Rockets' second championship. "You're supposed to love your first the most, but I've never been happier than beating Orlando," Horry recalls. "We were the defending champions but were only on national TV like twice that year. Orlando was on almost every week." He need not remind Shaq or Brian Shaw -- Magic then, Lakers now -- that he averaged a double-double (17.3 points, 10 rebounds) in the sweep. Shaq, sitting across the LA locker room: "I tracked down his number that summer, called him to say, 'F-- you, Rob,' and hung up." Horry grins.

    Anger: throwing a towel in the face of Suns coach Danny Ainge during his 32-game stint in Phoenix. The incident, which got Horry tossed into the coach-killer bin, was the result of a mountain of pent-up frustrations. He'd been discarded by his dream franchise. He had to leave Keva and a 24-hour nurse to care for Ashlyn. Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons was privately blaming Horry and then-Sun Sam Cassell for his decision to step down in the midst of a 0-13 start. Ainge, Cotton's replacement, barely played Horry in Robert's first game back in Houston, then reneged on a promise of more minutes after trading Michael Finley and A.C. Green to Dallas. When Ainge yanked him in the midst of a loss in Boston, Horry pelted him with the towel. Horry immediately apologized in the locker room after the game -- even now he credits Ainge for the arc that has made his corner three so deadly -- but four days later he was traded to the Lakers. "I don't hold anything against Robert," says Ainge, who had the towel framed. "He had a lot going on then."

    Fear: the chance of losing Ashlyn.


    Robert Horry Sr. is a proponent of the poker face. "Never let 'em know when you're angry," he says. "Show a smile and you throw 'em off." He divorced Robert's mother, Lelia, shortly after Robert was born, and eventually moved to South Carolina. But he still made sure his son had a father. When the 6'5" Horry Sr. was stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., he traded in his Buick Century and crammed into a Toyota Corolla so he could afford the gas for the 320-mile round-trip weekend drives to see his only son. Lelia still lives in Andalusia while Robert Sr. lives in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., but both remain close to their son.

    "I call him Heartstring," says Robert Sr., who can prompt his son to smile by simply raising three fingers from his baseline seat behind Dyan Cannon, letting Junior know he wants a clutch three.

    Magic Johnson recently anointed Horry one of the top 15 clutch playoff performers of all time. Horry waves off the accolade, just as he did the comparison to Pippen years ago, but Magic is not alone. "There's only a handful of guys who really want to take that big shot," says the Spurs' Elliott. "He's one of them."

    But to get all puffed up would give his accomplishments too much weight. He knows it's Keva who gets up at 5:30 a.m. every day to take care of the kids; Keva who helps Ashlyn attend a regular elementary school and tracks her three-hour daily therapy sessions; Keva who sometimes agonizes for days before figuring out she has a sore throat. "I know my daughter has a destiny," Keva says, "and it's my responsibility to help her find it."

    That's being clutch. That's coming through under pressure. If anybody would understand the difference, it's Robert Horry.

    This article appears in the June 10 issue of ESPN The Magazine
  16. Dave2000

    Dave2000 Contributing Member

    Aug 4, 2001
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    Damn, was about to open a thread on that article. That was a pretty good article. Loved how they mentioned when he is happy. frustrated, and what he fears the most. Thats probably the better article than the 2.
  17. lived

    lived Member

    Mar 16, 2000
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    How can anyone not respect the guy for what he's going through as a father? Tough enough as it is to be in his position, he still goes about doing his business.
    Horry needs a chance to come back to Houston, to be close to his family.
    And he's a pretty good fit with the team too.

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