Chris Silva Opens Up About Heartbreaking Loss of Former Coach and ‘Father Figure’

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Miami Heat rookie Chris Silva recently lost his father figure, Tommy Sacks, who passed away after suffering a heart attack.

The big man opened up about the loss of Sacks, who was a friend and mentor to the youngster.

“It doesn’t feel real to me. It’s just like a bad dream,” Silva said. “It hit me the first day. But after days have gone by, I just question whether it’s even true. I go back and read messages because we had just talked to each other.”

Silva, a native of Gabon, Africa, moved to the United States at the age of 15.

Sacks, who was the associate head coach for the boys basketball team at the high school Silva attended, picked up the international prospect at the airport upon arrival.

With Silva’s parents and siblings back in Africa, he quickly grew close to Sacks’ family in the states.

“I basically grew up by myself,” said Silva. “So he used to invite me to his house during the holidays to come and spend time with him and his family. I remember I used to say no all the time. But he insisted. When I started going there, the first time it was alright. The second time, I started to like doing it because it was kind of fun. It became like a ritual throughout high school.”

Silva also spoke about how the two learned how to communicate despite not speaking the same language.

“When I first came, I wasn’t speaking English so me and him were in the gym just trying to figure out how to communicate with each other to get the workout done,” he recalled. “We used to spend hours in the gym to get a workout done because we couldn’t communicate. At times I was getting frustrated, I couldn’t tell him. At times I was happy, I couldn’t tell him either. With the years and time spent together, we started to get close to each other.”

While Silva’s legal guardian lives in Boston, the rookie credits much of his growth on the court and life to Sacks.

“He was like a father figure, but also like a basketball mentor,” Silva said of Sacks. “My uncle knows as much as he can, but he’s not really involved in basketball. He doesn’t really know how that works. He’s always there to provide support and stuff, but coach Tommy was the one who knew basketball and everything about my skill set and what I can do and dealing with all my issues and problems. Everything.”

The numerous hours in the gym paid off.

After a successful collegiate career at the University of South Carolina, Silva signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Heat as an undrafted free agent back in July.

The team upgraded his contract to a two-way deal during training camp. Yet, the big news came in January as the Heat signed the hard-working forward to a three-year contract.

The 6-foot-8 pro is putting up just 2.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game this season.

While the novel coronavirus forced players to be away from the basketball court for some time, Silva’s isolation must have been extremely difficult.

There is no doubt he will play in honor of Sacks as he continues his burgeoning career.

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Born and raised in South Florida, Justin has always been a passionate Miami Heat fan. An avid supporter from the time Miami got its first championship in 2006 to having a league-worst 15-67 record in 2008 to the whole LeBron James era until now, Justin has seen and stuck through it all. His all-around analysis and heart for the game has made him a premier NBA writer. He writes for a variety of sites but his commitment to the Heat is always top priority.