By Ben Golliver
The Rockets have rallied around coach Kevin McHale, whose daughter Sasha died on Sunday at the age of 23, and they will show their support on the court Tuesday night.
While playing host to the Raptors at the Toyota Center, the Rockets will don a green patch with purple trim on the left shoulder of their home white jerseys. The patch can be seen at right, via the Rockets on Instagram.
McHale, a Hall of Fame player with the Celtics, has been on leave from the Rockets since Nov. 10 to be with his family. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson has served as interim coach.
Green was Sasha's favorite color, according to the Houston Chronicle, while purple is the color associated with the fight against lupus, an autoimmune disease that Sasha reportedly battled for years.
A moment of silence is planned for before Tuesday’s game. The Rockets will wear a green arm band on their uniform shoulders and on the pregame warmups in Sasha McHale’s honor, choosing green because it was her favorite color, but also offering a small reminder of how close she was to her father.
“Her high school jersey number was No. 32. So green and 32, with the McHale family, that can only mean one thing,” Rockets acting head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Celtic pride is in there somewhere. That’s also another indication she’s daddy’s girl. She adored her father. Her father adored her. That’s why this is so tough.
“It’s about supporting Kevin and his family. Kevin is hurting, as any parent would. I think it’s important for our players. They haven’t had a lot of contact with Kevin since he left (Nov. 10). Being able to just give him a hug, let him know we’re there for him and supporting him. We’ve got to go play a game tomorrow night, but this is just a lesson in perspective.
The Rockets will travel to Minnesota to attend Sasha McHale's memorial service on Wednesday morning before a Wednesday evening game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander extended his condolences to McHale in a statement on Sunday.
Team owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement that he extends his "deepest condolences" over the loss of the McHales' "beautiful daughter." He called Kevin and wife Lynn "loving and dedicated parents who will need our continued support throughout this very difficult time." He said the "entire organization is mourning."
Sampson and members of the Rockets coaching staff also wore green and purple ribbons to honor Sasha McHale, shown to the right.
Like her father, Sasha was a basketball standout, according to TwinCities.com.
Before lupus, Sasha wore No. 32 and earned honorable mention to the all-state team in 2008. In the championship game victory over DeLaSalle, she scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds. She also had four fouls -- which was her plan every game, Scott said.
"She was super aggressive and would try so hard," Scott said. "If she wouldn't foul out, it would be a good game." Her height of 5 feet, 11 inches and long arms earned her the nickname "Inspector Gadget," and her "high-pitched chuckle" kept things light in the locker room and on the bench, Scott said.