Monday morning it was reported that Marvin Barnes, one of the greatest players in the history of Providence College, had passed away at the age of 62. An immensely gifted player who helped lead his hometown school to the Final Four in 1973, Barnes was known as much for the stories that came as a result of his off-court activities as he was for that impressive skill set.
What he was also known for, especially amongst Providence fans, was his connection with fellow Providence native (and the team’s point guard) Ernie DiGregorio. Playing for a coach in Dave Gavitt who would go on to have a significant impact on the game of basketball, the two athletes from different sections of Providence (Ernie hailed from North Providence, and Marvin was from South Providence) came together at a time of instability within the city.
In a story written by Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal, DiGregorio discussed the bond he shared with Barnes and Kevin Stacom, another member of that 1973 Final Four team.
It was a team that went all the way to the Final Four, on the verge of blowing out Memphis State in the semifinal game before Barnes hurt his knee. Maybe more important, the bond between DiGregorio and Barnes, and Stacom, too, never went away, even through all of Barnes’ tribulations, where he struggled off and on with drug problems.
“It was always about love,” DiGregorio said. “People caring about each other.”
Even if, on the surface, they were the unlikeliest of friends.
For that was the thing that always remained, even after all the games and all the cheers went away. It was the memories. It was the shared moments. It was the bond. These were the things that endured, as the years went by, and everything changed, even them.
The full story can be read here.