Friday, September 30, 2011

For D-Roe

When Delvon Roe stepped onto the court for Michigan State 4 years ago, I’d already heard the hype. I’d heard he was injured his senior year of high school, so things might start slowly for him, but he was going to be big. Bigger than big. All of us were excited to how things would
unfold and no one was more excited than me.

After the graduation of Drew Neitzel, I needed a new “favorite” MSU player. Natually, I love all of them, but I always have one that rises slightly above the rest. The guy that wasn’t necessarily the star or top scorer, but the guy that (to me) embodied what a Spartan is all about: Heart, toughness, teamwork and a love of not just the game, but Michigan State. After hearing nothing but good things and as a former post player, I toyed with the idea of picking Roe for this coveted position (okay, not really “coveted”…but you get what I mean). And then my friend sent me a close-up picture of Roe’s Sparty tattoo. This guy was in it for life. And I was sold.

As the seasons past, it seemed like all I kept hearing was how Roe hurt his knee again—first his right, then his left, then his right….and on it went. I don’t remember many games where announcers weren’t talking about his latest surgery or procedure or what kind of brace he was wearing today. How he “wasn’t the player he was supposed to be for this Michigan State club.” No matter what happened, the poor kid couldn’t catch a break.

I also don’t remember ever hearing Roe complain. I don’t remember him sitting on the bench in street clothes or watching him on the court and thinking, “Wow, he looks hurt.”

What I DO remember is this: Delvon Roe never once—not ONCE—disappointed
me. I remember cheering for every rebound, every putback and every great pass he made. I remember how solid he was in every big game. I remember feeling like we, as
fans, could always count on him when we needed to. I remember thinking how unselfish he was with his teammates—and nothing illustrates this better than when he got undercut in
the Penn State game trying to get Draymond Green a triple-double. It was a nasty tackle, more likely to be found on a football field than a basketball court, and the kid jumped up, ran
over to Green and asked, “Did you get it?” I remember feeling better whenever he was on the floor.

I read the news of his retirement with a broken heart. Selfishly, I will miss his contributions on the court. Spartan basketball needs him. WE need him. But after reading his quotes and listening to pieces of the press conference, I find my heart breaks more for him. This is a young man with a love of the game, a love of his teammates and coaches and the rare awareness that what he has been able to do as a student-athlete makes him incredibly blessed. This is a young man who fought with everything he had against a body that betrayed him. This is a young man who put himself on the line daily to try and satisfy unknown faces in green and white just like me. This is a man that showed heart and toughness and teamwork and in doing so gave us Final Fours and Big Ten Championships. This is a man who showed what it truly means to be a Spartan.

So to Delvon Roe, I can only say THANK YOU. Thank you for your dedication, your heart, your passion and your love. Thank you for representing Spartan Nation with class and for teaching all of us what it means to be a student-athlete. Thank you, thank you,thank you. And most of all, thanks for that duck. ;)