Celtics lift spirits, and get theirs lifted, in visit to Boston Children's Hospital

A. Sherrod Blakely
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON -- Marcus Morris has been bothered by left knee soreness that continues to limit his availability for the Celtics. 
 
But as much as it hurts Morris to not be able to play with his teammates, he knows all too well just how blessed he is in life. 
 
Morris was among the C's players participating Thursday in the team's annual trip to Boston Children's Hospital, where they put quite a few smiles on the faces of children who -- as Morris and others were quick to acknowledge -- are dealing with real challenges and adversity that trump any bumps, bruises and setbacks on the basketball court they might be experiencing.
 
"For us to get a chance to come over for an afternoon, it's something that  . . . it's one of my favorite places to be," said coach Brad Stevens. "Our team would echo that."





Especially Morris, who, along with his twin brother Markieff Morris, recently spent about $6,000 to pay off the remaining balance on gifts put on layaway at a Walmart in their hometown of Philadelphia. 

"It's the least I can do," Morris told NBC Sports Boston. "My mom, she's got a big heart, just trying to find something different to do. I remember when I was a kid, we used to have so much stuff on layaway and we would get it off like, two days before Christmas. So, I just tried to surprise some people, take care of some layaways."
 
But as we've seen in the past with the Celtics and Boston Children's Hospital, the giving of their time to sit and talk with young patients, share stories and -- in the case of Marcus Smart -- develop life-long bonds with patients, is priceless. 
 
In October, Smart was named the recipient of the New England Baptist Hospital's Community Champions Award in part for the time he has spent at local hospitals that have formed friendships that remain just as strong today. 
 
During his acceptance speech, he brought the packed capacity crowd to near tears detailing his involvement with ill family members and how that has shaped his interactions and friendships with some of the hospitalized youngsters.
 
For Smart, whose older brother Todd died of cancer in 2004, there's a connection that goes beyond the holiday season that he feels when gets a chance to spend time with the kids at Boston Children's Hospital and their family members. 
 
"I have a special connection with these kids here," Smart acknowledged. "Growing up, I went through what some of these kids go through and their families. I understand . . . it's hard to open up to somebody. I know for the kids, it means a lot for us to be here."
 
Although Jayson Tatum is only a rookie, he said today was his second trip visiting the hospital as a Celtic, a reminder that this is part of what being a member of this organization is all about. 
 
"I think it's great that we use our platform, to spend time with these kids to take their minds off of what they're going through" Tatum said. "Even for a couple of hours."













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