From Zak Keefer at the Indianapolis Star:
A city remembers Roger Brown by sending 84-year-old woman to his Basketball Hall of Fame induction
“DAYTON, OHIO — You hear the joy in her rising voice, you see the pain in her tears, you feel the triumph as she clenches her 84-year-old palms together.
Arlena Smith is going back. She’s talking about Roger.
Sometimes it hurts, hurts her now because it hurt him then. The day he showed up on her doorstop, exiled from the game he cherished, broke with nowhere to turn. The phone calls she’d get from him, crying, tired of the story that wouldn’t die and the questions that wouldn’t stop.
Sometimes, though, it’s pure bliss. Before he became the backbone of the ABA’s Indiana Pacers, Roger Brown became her adopted son, a member of the family.
Their good-natured barbs during his AAU games in Dayton. She’d call him “gramps” from her spot on the scorer’s table – “Cuz he moved so slow!” After his team won, he’d walk over to her and ask, “So, how’d I do?” with his cocky grin, knowing full well he was the best player on the court.
She watched him blossom into a star, one of the best the ABA ever saw. Sunday, after 17 years of waiting, he enters the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Roger won’t be there to see it. Liver cancer took him in 1997. Arlena’s husband of 61 years, Azariah, won’t either. Heart failure, two years back.
But Arlena? The woman with the beaming smile and boundless memories and undying affection for the man whose hoops career she and her husband resurrected in their cozy, white home on Shoop Ave.?
She’ll be there.”
Read the rest of the story here: http://www.indystar.com/article/20130904/SPORTS04/309040049/A-city-remembers-Roger-Brown-by-sending-84-year-old-woman-his-Hall-Fame-induction