Hazell Stoudemire Rumors
The buzz around Amar’e Stoudemire’s return to the lineup for the Knicks has much to do with just how he might gel with the team’s newest sensation Jeremy Lin, as well as some concern as to whether or not he’s recovered from the death of his older brother Hazell, who last week lost his life in a car accident. With his brother still clearly on his mind, Stoudemire returned to action tonight sporting a brand new “teardrop” tattoo just under his right eye. Of course the significance of the tattoo is a showing of his deep sorrow for the man who he referred to as his “Guardian Angel.”
The police say Stoudemire’s brother Hazell Stoudemire Jr. died instantly at 1:42 a.m. Monday. His 2007 Cadillac Escalade was traveling fast on Route 27 in Lake Wales when it ran into a tractor-trailer, flipping, and ending a troubled life at 35. Hazell Stoudemire was in and out of prisons, and family and friends did not gloss over his life. The day Amar’e was drafted into the N.B.A. in 2002, Hazell was serving time in a New York state prison after convictions on drug dealing and sexual abuse. Their mother, Carrie Stoudemire, violated parole to be at the draft proceedings, and was sent to jail after returning to Florida. “He was trying to change his life,” Amar’e Stoudemire said. “He’d just told me he was trying to do right, to get everything right.”
Earlier, when Stoudemire first walked into the church, the casket was open and he lovingly reached in to touch his brother’s hand. This was a day filled with raw emotion. “This is hurting me more than you could imagine,’’ Stoudemire said. Dressed in gray slacks, a light-blue shirt, gray tie, and wearing sunglasses, Stoudemire, the rock of the Knicks franchise, broke down with tears of love for his big brother Hazell, who died Monday at the age of 35. A nine-man Knicks contingent, which included All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, owner Jim Dolan, interim general manager Glen Grunwald, assistant GM Allan Houston and teammate Baron Davis, watched from 10 rows away, along with about 1,000 other mourners.
Amar’e Stoudemire stood before the open coffin, head bowed, eyes hidden behind sunglasses. Reaching in, he touched his brother’s body, holding his hand for several quiet seconds. Friends and family say they had not seen Stoudemire cry since he was 12, when his father, Hazell Stoudemire Sr., died of a heart attack. But later Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Lake Wales, Amar’e Stoudemire stood before his brother’s coffin and about 1,000 people, including nine members of the Knicks organization, bowed his head again, and wept. “That was my big brother,” Stoudemire told the gathering, pausing between words muffled with tears. “He kept me off the streets. He was like my guardian angel.”
In the end, the pain was too much to bear. Amar’e Stoudemire rarely shows emotion on the basketball court, and those close to him say had not cried since he was 12, when his father died. But Stoudemire could not hold back any longer. As he spoke yesterday at his brother Hazell’s funeral here at the First Baptist Church, a flood of feelings came forth. “Big brother, oh man,’’ Stoudemire said as he hunched over the pulpit, just above Hazell’s closed casket, covered with a bouquet of red roses. “He was my guardian angel. He pretty much guided me all the way through, I’m proud to say.’’
It was Earnest who was called to the accident scene to identify Hazell’s body. He then had to call Amar’e. “Amar’e told me that he loved Hazell more than anyone could imagine,’’ Earnest said. “Amar’e showed his love in so many ways.’’ Earnest remembers the two brothers sitting on the couch at his home before this season, Amar’e giving his older brother a big hug and telling him how much he loved him. “Amar’e is really torn up by this,’’ Earnest added. “He wanted to be so much like his brother, and they had such a loving relationship.’’