Austin Rivers says his father Doc’s mother passing was toughest thing he ever saw him deal with

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LOS ANGELES — It was a very unexpected moment in the Doc Rivers’ pregame press conference.

He’d been asked about what he had to do to keep the spirits up of a young team that had just lost its two best players for the remainder of the playoffs and looked destined for quick elimination. The follow up question was who he leaned on to keep his spirits up? The usually loquacious and joking Rivers kind of stammered around an answer for 30 seconds, ending by saying “I don’t know.”

Then as an unrelated next question came, Rivers’ eyes filled up with tears. Rivers apologized, and said that the question about who he leaned on got him thinking about his late mother. “That would have been the person.” Rivers’ mother Bettye passed away almost a year ago, last June.

After the Clippers’ loss, Austin Rivers was asked about Bettye and his father’s relationship by Arash Markazi of ESPN.

“He doesn’t really share his life outside of basketball with me,” Austin said. “He and I don’t know each other like that. We know each other as strictly basketball. A lot of people on the outside don’t understand that because people think we have a relationship like every other father and son. We just don’t. That’s because he’s been gone my whole life, and that’s fine.

“It’s worked out for the both of us. But the one person he could always really be with was his mom. That’s the toughest thing I’ve ever seen him go through; more than the Sterling stuff and even when his dad passed away. His mom was everything to him. I’ve never seen him like that.”

Powerful stuff. And it gives you an insight into the sacrifices of NBA coaches.