Why is Marcus Smart in the gym in the wee hours? To remember his mom


When the Celtics face the Knicks tomorrow, it promises to be an emotional night for Marcus Smart. And it'll have nothing to do with the C's disappointing loss to New York back before Thanksgiving.

The game falls on Camellia Smart's 64th birthday. The Celtics guard's mother died Sept. 16 after fighting cancer. She regularly texted her son during games and if he was playing on her birthday, her son made sure he texted her plenty.

“When I played on her birthday, I’d send her texts before the game, at halftime, after the game," Smart told Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. "It’s going to be tough.”

The grieving process for his mom has, of course, been difficult. Smart told Himmelsbach that visiting the Celtics' new practice facility, The Auerbach Center in Brighton, in the wee hours has been one method he's used in helping to cope. 

The 2 a.m., 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. visits have come when it's been difficult for him to sleep as he thinks of his mom.

“I tell her how much I love her and miss her, and I just talk about my day and everything that’s been going on,” Smart told Himmelsbach of those moments by himself at the facility. “If you don’t talk about them out loud, that’s when they really die."

Smart has a tattoo honoring his mother.  He spoke about it with NBC Sports Boston before the season began.

“So I just try to talk about her as much as I can, talk to her when I’m alone, and just never forget that she’s always here in spirit and always here in my heart.”

The solitude has been therapeutic, Smart said.

“It’s really my time for me just to be alone and really grieve on my own. With everything that happened, I had to be back in Boston so quickly [to start training camp] that I really haven’t had enough time to just grieve. It hit me, but it hasn’t really hit me. And at moments it hits me, being alone is something that works.”

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