Stevens Visits Former Player Ahead of Bone-Marrow Transplant

Brad Stevens, Andrew Smith Catch Up in Indianapolis While Celtics Are in Town

INDIANAPOLIS – Brad Stevens is in Indianapolis to coach his Celtics against the Pacers, but he was able to catch up with a few old friends Tuesday night while in town.

No visit was more important than the one he had with Andrew Smith.

Smith, who played four seasons under Stevens from 2009-13 at Butler, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma nearly two years ago. Stevens has made it a point to be one of Smith’s greatest supporters as the 6-foot-11 big man has fought the disease.

Tuesday’s visit to Indianapolis came at an opportune time for Stevens. Boston’s trip to play the Pacers allowed the coach to visit with Smith less than 48 hours before one of the most important procedures of his lengthy battle against cancer.

“He’s got a bone-marrow transplant tomorrow, as most of you know,” Stevens said ahead of Wednesday morning’s shootaround. “I’ve seen Andrew through a lot of really tough stuff over the last two years, and that son of a gun always responds. He’s as tough as they come and I have no doubt that he’ll respond again.”

Stevens said that Smith and his family are in a great mental state heading into the procedure.

“He was great, spirits-wise,” Stevens said with a proud grin. “A lot better than, I think, 99 percent of the people I know would be.

“He’ll do well. He feels good about it. His wife feels good about it. We’re all hoping for the best, and we all know how gritty that kid is.”

Stevens and Smith had a nice conversation that, not unexpectedly, rounded back to the basis of their friendship.

“It was funny,” said Stevens, “he asked about how we (the Celtics) were doing, are we coming together, how are we playing; those are small problems, aren’t they, in the big picture?”

They are small problems, but ones that Stevens was more than happy to discuss as he stood next to his former player’s side.

“The minute he graduated, I’m not his coach. I’m just his friend,” Stevens commented. “Anything that we can do to help and support, that’s what we’re here to do.”

Thanks to the NBA schedule makers and a touch of fate, Stevens was able to provide yet another boost of support to his friend ahead of a potentially life-changing day.

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