Euless Trinity boys basketball coach Mark Villines recently asked his players what inspired each of them to play the game. One answer stood out.
Devin Newton, a 6-3 senior guard, said it was the memory of his older brother, who died playing the sport he loved.
DeShawn Newton was a promising freshman player in the Los Angeles area. At 14, he was already getting interest from college programs like Arizona and USC. But at a tournament in Grand Prairie in late April 2008, he suffered an asthma attack during a game that ultimately took his life.
Devin was nine years old at the time.
Once I got on the floor, I would think, ‘My brother would do this, or my brother would do that. He would do this better, or he would do that better.’
- Devin Newton on his older brother DeShawn, who died after suffering an asthma attack in a basketball game in 2008
“I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think it was real,” Devin said. “To be honest, when I heard that I didn’t even want to play basketball anymore. I had bronchitis and I didn’t want to play anymore. But I thought more about it and decided I wanted to continue to play for him.”
Up to that point, Devin had been more of a baseball player and wasn’t really into basketball. But as his interest in the hard court supplanted his interest in hardball, Devin started to draw inspiration from his departed brother.
“I started using it as motivation,” Devin said. “Once I got on the floor, I would think, ‘My brother would do this, or my brother would do that. He would do this better, or he would do that better.’”
Devin moved to Texas in August of 2015 and has since become one of the leaders of this year’s Trojans team. He’s second in scoring and rebounding this season and leads the team in assists. Every day he wears an angel chain in remembrance of DeShawn. It also helps remind him what made his brother such a good player.
“It has motivated me a lot because he was really good. He worked very hard,” Devin said.
It would be easy to get sad thinking about it before and during games, but Devin sees it a different way.
“I try to not let it get to me a lot. I just try to think of him in positive ways,” he said. “I didn’t use it as a negative, like this could happen to me. I used it as energy and fuel.”