the Baller’s Almanac: August 9, 2012

It was 16 years ago today that Derek Smith collapsed and died aboard a cruise ship. He had taken his family on a cruise for Washington Bullets and Washington Capitols season ticket holders, and was hosting basketball clinics during the days. The ship was near Bermuda when Smith suffered a massive heart attack, dying on the spot.

Smith, who won a National Title with Louisville, is the father of Nolan Smith. Nolan witnessed his father's death, and now has a tattoo of him on his arm with the words "Forever Watching." He acknowledges the tattoo each time he walks on to the court at the beginning of a game.

It's Bob Cousy's birthday, born on this day in 1928. Born in New York City to French immigrants, Cousy grew up in several poor neighborhoods during the depression. He didn't start playing basketball until he was 13. He tried and failed to make his school team, and then experienced what would be a fortuitous event when he broke his right hand. Hooked on basketball at that point, he continued to play and forced himself to learn how to do everything left handed. When his on-hand healed his skill had increased dramatically due to the use of his left. He made the varsity team as a junior, and then led the city in scoring as a senior.

He chose to attend Holy Cross and immediately stuck out with his flashy, streetball game. He would help lead the Crusaders to two NCAA Tournaments and an NIT, and was a three-time All American.

He was drafted 3rd overall by the Tri-City Blackhawks, but he refused to report, and eventually signed with the Celtics.

Other birthdays include: George Hoyt 1883 (Referee), Bobby Moers 1918 (Texas), Dick Knostman 1931 (Kansas State), Jarvis Hayes 1961 (Georgia, Western Carolina), Hot Rod Williams 1962 (Tulane), Vinny Del Negro 1966 (North Carolina State), and Joel Anthony 1982 (UNLV)