Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith broke down in tears during the NBA Finals postgame press conference as he paid tribute to the support he has received over the years from his father, Earl Smith Sr., as well as his mother, Ida.
"My dad is easily my biggest inspiration to play this game,'' Smith, 30, said. "To hear people talk bad about me it hurts me because I know it hurts him. It’s not who I am. And I know he raised better, and I know I want to do better. Everything I do is for my parents and my family.
"The cars are nice, the houses is nice but none of this matters without them," he added.
Smith's parents and younger brothers, Chris and Dimitrius, made the trip to Oakland from their New Jersey home for Sunday's Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors.
Earl was right there to give his son, a father of two girls himself, a huge hug after the Cavs won their first NBA title.
Smith teared up as he spoke about the support from his parents during the numerous highs and lows during his 11-year NBA career, which began when he was drafted straight out of high school in 2004.
In 2007, he served 24 days in jail after an SUV he was driving crashed into another car, killing a friend in the passenger seat.
His career hit a detour when he played in China in 2011 and 2012 during the NBA lockout.
But a year later, with the New York Knicks, he seemed to hit his stride as he was voted the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year. He was traded to Cleveland last year and has now played in two straight NBA Finals.
"There have been a lot of dark spots in my life and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to get out of it,'' Smith said about his parents.
"But they are who they are, they fought with me, they yelled at me, they screamed at me, they love me, they hug me, they cry with me. They always stuck by my side, right or wrong."
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