Butler honors Andrew Smith with tribute video before game
The Butler community honored beloved center Andrew Smith with a tribute video and a moment of silence prior to the Bulldogs' game against St. John on Saturday, which Butler won 78-58.
Smith, the member of the Bulldogs' 2010 and 2011 Final Four teams, passed away at age 25 on Tuesday following a two-year cancer battle.
Butler players wore No. 44 shirts in honor of Smith during pregame warmups, and the Bulldogs will wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys for the remainder of the season.
Wearing #44 shooting shirts today, here come Andrew's Butler Bulldogs... pic.twitter.com/LjRZsNisah— Butler Basketball (@ButlerMBB) January 16, 2016
An unusually subdued sold-out crowd honored Smith, the 25-year-old former Bulldogs center, who died Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer. Fourteen members of his family, including his young widow, Samantha, attended the game and Butler made sure it was a fitting tribute.
"Whatever we did today, we wanted it to be about Andrew and his family," coach Chris Holtmann said, pausing to stay composed. "That was our only objective."
Before tip-off, there was a moment of silence and a video tribute to the late 6-foot-11 center. After winning, Holtmann gave Smith's father a game ball. Players wore warmup shirts with Smith's number, 44, and a patch on their jersey. Holtmann donned a No. 44 lapel pin on his sport coat and in the most emotional scene of the day, Samantha Smith spoke to the crowd at halftime.
"Andrew and I have had this game on our calendar to come to. I say that and we were supposed to come here together," Smith said from midcourt, her voice cracking. "We didn't come because it was easy. It's really hard."
The university had planned to use Saturday's game as a way to rally around Smith's fight. Stay Positive Day is named after the organization founded by former Butler student Eric Day, a two-time cancer survivor.
Smith, an Academic All-American, is one of three Butler players to end his career with 1,000 points and 100 wins.
"Commmited to his family, his team, his fans. Unselfish on and off the court . . . the Butler way embodied," the video narrator said.
"Our mountain. Our miracle. Our Moose."
This game was about a lot more than basketball.
Smith's funeral will be Sunday, with former Butler/current Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens reportedly flying in to perform the eulogy.
On Sunday, the Smith family will hold a celebration of life for Smith at Traders Point Christian Church in Whitestown, Indiana. Doors open at 4 p.m., the service begins at 5 p.m. and it will be live streamed at TPCC.org.
The Andrew Smith Scholarship Fund has been established to provide scholarship support for future men's basketball players. Contributions can be made online at Bulldognation.butler.edu/andrewsmith. Smith's family asked that flowers be sent to Flanner & Buchanan in Zionsville, Indiana. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations can be made to Be The Match. Donations can be made online at https://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-financially/.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.