Michigan State guard Cassius Winston played with a heavy heart on Sunday (November 10), a day after his younger brother Zachary died when he was struck by a train.
Cassius, a preseason All-American, had 17 points and 11 assists in Michigan State’s 100-47 win over Binghamton.
The emotion was palpable inside the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. There was a moment of silence before the game, and when Cassius left the game at the 4:46 mark in the second half, he shared a hug with coach Tom Izzo and every player and staff member on the Michigan State bench.
Cassius’ younger brother Zachary was hit by a westbound Amtrak train in Albion, Michigan, shortly after 8:30 p.m. Saturday according to ESPN.
Zachary Winston apparently stepped in front of the train as it approached a pedestrian crosswalk just past the Erie Street crossing.
Zachary, along with Khy (Cassius’ other younger brother), played for Albion College basketball team. Zach was a sophomore.
Following Michigan State’s game Cassius posted a heartfelt message about his brother on Instagram.
Izzo didn’t believe Cassius would want to play, given how sudden the tragic news was and how close he was to his brother. But he left the decision entirely up to Cassius.
"I guess if I was to be honest, I expected him not to play, but everyone grieves a different way, and we left it 100 percent up to Cassius," Izzo said. "His brothers are the world to him. I've never seen a kid over my years that was as close with his brothers. Zachary grew up around the team so much. He grew close to all the guys."
Albion College President Mauri Ditzler said Zachary Winston was "deeply loved and will be deeply missed."
"As a community, our hearts are broken today as we share the news of the passing of one of our students, Zachary Winston," Ditzler wrote in a statement. "Zach was a finance major, a student in the Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management, and [a] member of the Albion College men's basketball team. Beyond that, he was an extremely charismatic young man with an infectious smile. Zach was a recognized leader who was well known across every facet of our campus. He was a fantastic student with a world of potential before him. He was deeply loved and will be deeply missed.
"Our hearts go out to his brothers, Khy, who is a freshman at Albion, and Cassius, who is a senior at Michigan State University, his parents and his extended family. We echo the family's request in asking everyone to respect their privacy at this time."
While nothing can bring Zachary back, for a brief respite on Sunday, Cassius was able to do what he loves and something he and his brothers enjoy as a family.
Rest in peace, Zachary. Prayers up to Cassius and the entire Winston family.
(Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
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