9/11 memories from current college players

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The 9/11 anniversary stories started last month, began pouring in last week and hit a peak over the weekend as the United States paid tribute to everything we lost that day.

As for sports, it was a diversion and mostly continues to serve that role. But athletes, like everyone else, still vividly remember that day. The current college basketball players were in junior high or elementary school back then.

They’re mostly tangential to those events, but this oral history of various players compiled by Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com served as an interesting read, mostly because the guys he talked to were living on the East Coast at the time. The one that struck me the most? Penn State junior Brian Oliver, who lived in Chatam, N.J., on a street where at least six families had people working in the World Trade Center.

That’ll stick with you forever. From the story:

“They held us late in school. My most vivid memory is both of my parents coming to pick me up — that was unusual. I always walked home from school, so I knew it was especially serious. We walked to the elementary school and got my siblings. I remember my dad frantically calling people. My best friend was our neighbor and his dad worked in the World Trade Center. My parents were trying to get in touch with him, but the cell phone reception was so jammed that you couldn’t get any calls through. That’s something that will always stick with me.

“Another neighbor across the street was actually lost in the attack. We had six or seven families on our street that had someone working in the World Trade Center, so it was a very scary time. Trying to get in touch with them and not knowing what was going on — it was a very scary time. … I think my parents tried to hide it from me as best they could. But you can tell something is wrong in your family.”

Everything was wrong then, Brian. And sometimes things don’t change that much. Ten years later, there’s still scary stuff happening out there.

Makes me glad for the sports diversion.

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