Donald Ralls | Staff Writer
The Hampton University men’s basketball team is nearing the end of their season and are trying to capture yet another MEAC title. Hampton Nation has been cheering each game and making their presence known but, on February 5, the crowd got a little quieter when the team lost one of their biggest fans, an unspoken hero who passed away due to a form of cancer known as leukemia.
Bruce Lee McMillin was introduced to the Hampton University Basketball team three years ago. Center Jervon Pressley, a senior from Charlotte, North Carolina, says, “I met him when I first got to HU at a football game. I was walking and saw him [and then] music came on so I got him hype and we danced and we just clicked from there”.
McMillin’s caretaker, Brian Hannigan worked with him for four years and eventually the two connected and became inseparable. Hannigan has connection to the university but he would bring McMillin to Hampton basketball and football games, which allowed him to be around the players and become close with them. Pressley and McMillin formed a close bond through these interactions but there was one more player that would come into this brotherhood.
Quinton Chievous, a senior forward from Chicago, was next to come into McMillin’s life. “I met him my junior year when I got to Hampton,” said Chievous. “Jervon Pressley gets the credit because he introduced us and we would eventually go out to eat with him and hang around at the football games.”
McMillin add a much-needed spark to the team and was the missing key that motivated the players. He brought pure joy every single practice and game he attended, and even though Pressley and Chievous were the closest to him on the team and McMillin would repeatedly tell others how much he loved and cared about them.
Hampton University point guard Pierre Hayden also expressed his feelings on McMillin. “He was life for us, he helped us grow because of the spirit that was within him, we grew to love him as our brother,” Hayden shared. “It is always sad to see your brother go but we know he is in a better place where he isn’t suffering anymore.”
McMillin was a big inspiration for the team. He had his own whistle in practice that head coach Edward Joyner gave him and he would blow it to push the players to go harder and get them better prepared for their games.
When the team found out about McMillin’s cancer, they cherished every moment with him even more because they did not know where things were going to go. They would go on hospital visits and house visits to show their support to McMillin and he would return the favor from time to time. McMillin’s disease did not stop him from showing up to practice or a game from time to time.
“He kept me focused when he saw me messing around. He played a major role in our drive and success this year because of the strength he showed,” Chievous stated. “Even when he was enduring all this pain from losing his mother and then being diagnosed with cancer, he never showed fear and or sadness when we were around because he always just so happy to see us.”
McMillin’s passing will serve as fuel for the Hampton Men’s Basketball team as they hope to excel on and off the court in the coming months. Players will dawn the back of their sneakers with tributes to their friend and they will continue to play every game with him in mind.
When people like McMillin come into your life, it is hard to view life the same when they leave. He showed you that the things going on in your life should not determine your happiness or your joy.
McMillin’s example should serve as an inspiration to all of us; he is the definition of love because when he said he loved you he meant it. You could see it in his eyes and it wasn’t because of your stats or because you had a good game; it was the simple fact that he truly did love you.
McMillin’s favorite saying was “Pirate for Life” and that is exactly what McMillin will always be to the members of the men’s basketball team.