Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr (on the right) and his father Malcolm Kerr (on left)
Steve Kerr’s father was assassinated in Beirut in 1984.
And I had no idea what a small group of students at Arizona State University did to Steve Kerr two days later, when he was playing for Arizona.
It was despicable.
More on that in a moment.
Steve Kerr's father, Malcolm, was the President of American University in Beirut. He was shot in the back of the head while walking out of an elevator. It’s believed he was killed by Hezbollah gunman after getting orders from Iran.
Steve Kerr later told the Chicago Tribune:
“Before my father was killed, my life was impenetrable.
Bad things happened to other people.
I thought I was immune from anything like that, and so was my family.”
“Something like this opens your eyes.
It made me understand the pain that others experience, the effect that death can have.
It’s made me realize that millions of people go through these things.”
It was 3 am in the morning in January of 1984, when Steve Kerr got the call that his father had been killed.
Kerr was sleeping in his dorm room at the University of Arizona.
Two days later he played in a game against Arizona State.
His coach Lute Olson told him:
“You just need to take your time, and you can stay away from the game or whatever you want to do.
And he said, ‘Coach, the only time I can keep from thinking about my dad is when I’m playing basketball.’ ”
So that day he played against ASU.
And this is what happened during the warm-ups before the game.
A small group of the ASU students started chanting:
“Where’s your dad?”
“Your father is history.”
And “Why don’t you join the Marines and go back to Beirut?”
This was two days after his father was assassinated.
I don’t know how anyone could do that.
Kerr dropped the ball and collapsed on the bench.
He started crying.
But then he composed himself.
And went out and hit six straight 3-pointers in the first half.
Arizona destroyed ASU.
The Athletic Director at ASU later apologized to Kerr.
Charles Harris said:
“I just felt like that moment did not reflect the institution, and every once in a while we all make a mistake, and my job I felt was to own it.
He was incredibly gracious. … He’s really an incredible person, someone who survived and rose above unimaginable tragedy.
If you look at him over the span of the past 25 years, that embodies who he is.
That’s how he carries himself.
I think that told us a lot about Steve Kerr.”
I’ve never met Steve Kerr.
Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to have coffee with him.
He seems like a standup guy.
I like that.
He was never the best athlete.
He wasn’t highly recruited.
But he worked hard.
He overcame the murder of his father.
And he made it to the NBA.
That says a lot about him.
No wonder the Warriors have the best record in the NBA.