Duke's 2009-2010 roster is full of tragic stories.
Nolan Smith's is among the saddest.
At a young age of eight years old, Nolan's dad, Derek Smith, suffered from a heart attack.
For those who do not know, Derek Smith led his college team, Louisville to a National Championship back in the day. He then progressed to the NBA, being successful with the D.C. Bullets. Nolan would watch all of his games on the sidelines learning the game of basketball from the pros. His dream was to go to the NBA like his dad.
Before Derek Smith died, he had his soon-to-be last talk with his son, Nolan. Derek was lecturing him on having a good sportsmanship after Nolan threw the ball off the cruise ship they were on while playing one on one.
To this day, Nolan Smith remembers that conversation as it rang in his head throughout the tournament.
After the death of his father, Nolan Smith wanted to quit basketball for good. He was so devastated. But, then he remembered the conversation that he had with his father. "Be a respectful player. Respect the game and never give up", were the words that came out of Derek Smith's mouth. And those were the words that kept Nolan going. The words that led him to play for one of the best colleges in the nation. The words that led him to a national championship.