News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Given to Fly

April 15, 2007

Given to Fly: Oden trying to make the right decision

Greg Oden is turning to family, friends and his coach to make the right decision about his future basketball career.

But Oden, whose basketball talents were spawned here in Terre Haute, is without a friend who was there for the 19-year-old from the beginning of his basketball playing days at the Terre Haute Boys Club.

Travis Smith’s life tragically ended at 19 in a Jan. 27 car accident in Muncie.

Oden was there for some of Smith’s best moments on the golf course, coming to Terre Haute more than once to ride along for a round.

Travis’s father Jimmy Smith, a former basketball player at Indiana State and Oden’s coach during his early days, had dinner with Oden and his mother Zoe on Saturday at Indianapolis.

Jimmy Smith said that Oden had plans to meet with Mike Conley Sr. on Sunday to gather information to make a decision, but he didn’t know how soon Oden would decide whether or not to return to Ohio State for a sophomore season.

During diner, Oden brought up the fact that he and Travis Smith had plans for when the time came for him to make the jump to the NBA.

“It’s something Greg made mention of last night,” Jimmy Smith said Sunday. “Greg wanted Travis to come live with him. They kind of had their plans. I actually felt sorry for Greg when he was talking about it. Travis is isn’t here to go with Greg; that’s what life has dealt us.”

Life in the NBA for a 19-year-old can be tough with millions of dollars thrust into his hands. Nothing like having your childhood best friend come along for the ride.

Travis Smith had the potential to be a professional in his sport too as a four-time Indiana state finalist in golf. Oden no doubt wanted his friend to achieve greatness as well.

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