Rockets back grieving dad McHale

  • Article by: RANDY HARVEY , Houston Chronicle
  • Updated: November 29, 2012 - 7:03 AM

Houston's players offered their sympathy to McHale before daughter's funeral.

hide

Houston Rockets forward Marcus Morris and teammates bow their heads during a moment of silence for the late daughter of head coach Kevin McHale, Sasha, before their NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Oklahoma City won 120-98. The Rockets began the day by attending Sasha McHale's funeral in Minnesota that followed her death Saturday at age 23 of complications from lupus.

Photo: Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

OKLAHOMA CITY --Instead of a photo on Sasha McHale's Facebook page, there was this simple message: "I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK.''

No one knows who said that first. Some guess H.G. Wells. It might have been the first father to ever tuck his daughter into bed.

It was most recently popularized in a poem dedicated to a young girl who lost her father on 9/11. He was a co-pilot of one of the planes hijacked by terrorists that crashed into the World Trade Center.

"I love you up to the moon and back.

"Words she'd love once again to hear.

"For they were the very last words from her father

"To grace her tender ears.''

A young girl grieves for her father. Sad, yes, but as any caring parent knows, he would prefer that to grieving for her.

Kevin McHale, coach of the Rockets, and his wife, Lynn, buried their daughter on a cold, gray afternoon in Minnesota on Wednesday. Sasha, 23, died Saturday after a long battle with lupus, a chronic disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues and organs. It stalks young women in particular.

Although the Rockets had a game Tuesday night in Houston, they sent a party of 40, including players and coaches, to St. Odilia Catholic Church in Shoreview on Wednesday morning. When they walked through the door, McHale and his wife were arranging candles around a collage of photos of Sasha, a final private moment with the second-youngest of their five children.

They stood quietly until McHale looked up and saw them there. He embraced each, lingering longer with Kelvin Sampson, coaching the Rockets until he returns.

"It was really, really, really emotional,'' Sampson said. "Just emotional.''

The Rockets couldn't stay for the funeral. They had to leave early to assure they would be in Oklahoma City in time for their Wednesday night game against the Thunder, a 120-98 loss.

"I think our guys understood that something far more powerful and important had happened than their routines,'' Sampson said before the game. "This was supporting our coach who lost a daughter.''

His voice cracking, the father of two added, "I can't imagine what that's like.''

The Rockets honored Sasha in the Thunder game as they had the night before at the Toyota Center in Houston against Toronto, with a green ribbon on the left shoulder of their jerseys.

Green was Sasha McHale's favorite color. She was proud of her Irish heritage.

When she died Saturday, one of her professors at University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she was studying communications, sent out an e-mail in Irish-Gaelic, which translated to: "May her soul sit at the right hand of God.''

But she also liked green because her father played for the Boston Celtics. "Sasha was a daddy's girl,'' Sampson said.

She was 5-11, wore her father's number (32) and played her father's position, power forward, at Totino-Grace High School. She wasn't the scorer that he had been, preferring to pass, but she was the same tenacious rebounder and defender.

Although her illness was entering its final stages, Sasha visited her father in Houston for a few days around her last birthday.

"The only thing about being sick on my birthday is spending quality time with my dad,'' she wrote on Twitter on Oct. 27. "He's lucky I love my @HoustonRockets.''

She sent out her last tweet Nov. 3, one week before she would enter the hospital and McHale would take a leave of absence.

It read simply: "Let's go Rockets.''

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland 0 Top 1st Inning
Kansas City 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 0 2nd Prd 15:08
Boston 1
NY Rangers 1 2nd Prd 13:30
Philadelphia 1
Ottawa 0 1st Prd 19:03
Winnipeg 0
Carolina 0 1st Prd 19:30
St. Louis 0
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which struggling team is in the worst shape?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close