(January 11, 1976 – February 20, 2011)
To CardNation, this guy was one of the most lovable guys to ever put on the uniform. He hustled on the court and to some extent didn’t realize he was 400 pounds the way he moved on the court at times. He was a contributor to the Cardinal basketball team in just 20 games after adhering to Coach Crum’s request that he go on a diet. He even went out for the football team. He loved our school so much and his only regret here was that he didn’t get to do more for us. But I’m not here to talk about the on court Troy. I wanna share some things with you all about off the court Troy. He kept a close circle of friends that he always talked to me about, including little Russy. I wanna share with you what made this guy my friend.
I talked every week with Troy from the day we met till the day he passed away. After we left the University of Louisville, Troy and I still remained close. If I was having a bad day and I posted it on Facebook, he would always text me and tell me to believe in Jesus and he wouldn’t lead me wrong. Before Facebook, if he heard from a mutual friend that someone had passed that I was close with he always contacted me to offer his condolences. He was the guy I always turned to if I needed everyday life guidance. The guy I turned to for spiritual guidance. He was the big brother I never had. I truly think about him all the time and miss his guidance and friendship.
There were 6 people he talked to me about all the time that he was so proud of. I’m not saying they are the only people, but the only ones he talked to me about. His brother, Coach Mark Jackson, his nephew Mark Jackson Jr, Professor from the And1 tour, Ramon Clemente who was like a little bro to him from his hood growing up, UL’s own Russ Smith and Chris Brown who was another guy who Troy hung with. I talked to him in 2010 during Thanksgiving weekend and he was so excited that his brother was doing great on TV and called me to tell me that Mark was being considered for the New York Knicks head coaching position. He was so excited and told me that his brother was up for consideration for a NBA Head Coaching job. It was the day they announced Mike D’Antoni as the new head coach that he called and told me the following….”He really loves New York and is disappointed I’m sure, but mark my words, He will be an NBA coach one day.” And he was….On June 6th the Golden State Warriors named Mark Jackson the 24th Head Coach in the franchise’s history. Troy was smiling down that day.
The second guy on that list is his nephew Mark Jackson Jr. When Troy found out that Mark Jr. was gonna play for the University of Louisville, he called me and told me that he was so proud that his nephew was gonna come here to hoop. He said he knew Coach P would get him prepared for his future. He told me that he knew if Mark Jr needed anything that he could call me and I would take care of him. He was right, but I never got a call lol. Mark worked really hard while he was at the University of Louisville and I believe if his father had not gotten the job at Golden State, he would still be here. I wish Mark Jr the very best on all he does in the future.
Professor was a special guy to Troy also. Not a day went by that he didn’t tell me how proud he was of him. He felt like Professor was his protegé and little brother. Even when that season was going on he would call me and tell me that Fess was the one. They formed a big brother-little brother bond that would never be broken. They both truly loved the game of basketball and you could tell. The last project that Troy worked on was called BallUp and he was so excited about it. He got to work with Professor in planning it and had high hopes for it. I know he would have been proud of it.
Ramon Clemente is a name you guys may not be familiar with. He played for Wichita State and has had a fantastic overseas career ever since. He grew up on the same block as Troy and Troy was a mentor to Ramon. He always told Ramon that as long as he prayed and worked hard that he would make it. Troy would keep me up to date on Ramon’s stats and journey. He told me several times that Ramon was the kind of guy that if he got a chance could make a NBA team. Ramon has been a perennial All-Star overseas every year. Ramon told me the day after Troy passed that ” Imma play my a** off the rest of my career for him. He always told me I was next from the neighborhood and I gotta hold it down for him”. Troy believed that too. Ramon, Troy would be proud of you bro,…Keep grinding bro.
Russ Smith…..you guys know the name, and yes it’s our Russ Smith. I believe it was the night before opening round play in the 2010 Big East tourney. I hit up Troy and asked him what he was doing since he was never home and always traveling. He messaged back and told me that he was having dinner with his good buddy Coach Masiello and Coach Pitino. I told him I was just about to ask if he was in NYC because the Big East tournament was going on. He replied “Yeah everyone from around here knows that” and laughed. I asked him if he was trying to get on staff at UofL. He said “No there’s this kid from around here that is a great shooter and wasn’t getting many major college looks” and he was pitching him to coach P. I asked him his name and he said Russ Smith. He told me “This kid can play, and if we don’t take him we will be sorry.” Once again he was right lol. The faith that Troy had in God and in people in general always amazed me and it made me strive to do better myself. Shortly after that meeting it was announced that we had a commit from 2* guard Russ Smith from the So Connecticut/NYC metro area.
Chris Brown, AKA Breezy is the highest profile of these guys Troy believed in and would swear by. He was around Chris because of the whole NYC Hoops scene. Chris liked to hoop and Troy was a Basketball embassador in New York City. That’s how they hooked up. I heard about Chris and his phenomenal talent way before a lot of people. Troy let me listen to Chris’s demo tape for studios. He had a lot of faith in Chris and his talent. Okay now that we have that out-of-the-way. I just remember Troy texting me and asking me to pray for Chris, that something had happened and he was in a bad place. I’m sure you all know the rest. However I know that till the day he died Troy believed in the good in Chris. I wish all the best to Chris and hope he gets things turned around.
I wanted to share with you guys this man and the stories i had about him and what made me want to be his friend. He was very spiritual and loved everyone he met. I played Football he played Basketball and became friends, not unusual but the fact that we stayed close until his dying day is unusual and is something I will cherish forever. I was talking to him on February 19th about 8p.m. and he told me he was getting of Skype because he was gonna go out to an all-star weekend party, I believe it was, and was gonna talk to me later. No signs of feeling bad, no signs of what would happen later that evening. As we got off of Skype he said “Stay blessed and don’t forget to pray.” He didn’t do drugs but he truly lived a fortunate life and did party like a rock star…..That was his ringtone on my phone lol. Troy, I know you can’t read this but you are the reason I am a lot of the things I am today just like most big brothers. I thank you. You motivated me to start blogging and told me I was gonna be a star. I can only hope I can make you proud just like the rest of the guys above. The guys you put your faith in and knew they would be great. I hope this article does you proud. I miss you and love you and will see you one day, best believe. In the words of Troy, everybody be blessed and stay blessed!