Less than 24 hours after his brother Zachary was struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Albion, Michigan, Michigan State senior guard Cassius Winston found himself in the Breslin Center, preparing for a college basketball game vs. Binghamton.
During warmups, he sat courtside with his other brother Khy, and minutes before tip, Cassius stood in line with his teammates for a moment of silence.
Cassius was in Michigan State’s starting lineup, and when he finished the Spartans' eventual 101-47 win with 17 points and 11 assists, he received a standing ovation from the home crowd and a wave of hugs from the entire MSU bench.
"Our hearts are filled with sorrow for the Winston family," head coach Tom Izzo said in a statement before the game. "Their pain over the sudden loss of Zachary is unimaginable."
Like Cassius, Zachary was a student-athlete, playing in 28 games last year as a freshman on Albion College’s basketball team. Khy Winston, a freshman, plays for Albion, as well.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the 19-year-old Zachary was struck and killed by a Chicago-bound Amtrak train on Saturday night when it came into contact with a person on the track.
The Athletic’s Brendan Quinn reported that Cassius had the option of pulling himself from the lineup at anytime if he decided he didn’t want to go ahead with the game.
But that didn't happen. Instead, with 4:46 to play in the second half and the game's result in hand, Izzo took out his star point guard. Winston found a seat on the bench next to senior guard Kyle Ahrens. With accents of Albion colors right behind them, the two seniors were seen laughing and talking with each other.
“It’s impossible to find the right words in this moment," Izzo said. "Other than to say that we will support the family in whatever way they need.”