Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PORTLAND - As trainer Jessica Kendall adjusted the tape on Jeremiah Rivers' left ankle, he looked away, his face tightening, the pain obvious.
Jeremiah Rivers is back on a basketball court and loving every minute, playing for the Maine Red Claws. He went through 15 months without the sport while recovering from surgery to both feet, removing bone spurs on both.
Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer
Rivers isn’t a top scorer but, said his friend and teammate DaJuan Summers, “He’s one of the best defenders I know.”
RED CLAWS WEEKEND
FRIDAY: Maine vs. Canton, 7 p.m.
SUNDAY: Maine vs. Canton, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Portland Expo
TV: Time Warner Cable Channel 9 (Friday only)
LIVE STREAM: www.maineredclaws.com
RADIO: WJAB 96.3-FM
Maine Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor approached Rivers, telling his player that he should sit out most of the day's practice. But it was up to Rivers.
Rivers practiced. He ran the drills, competed in scrimmages and kept on going.
"I've been on the sidelines for over a year," Rivers said, explaining why he worked out when the coach offered him a day off.
Jeremiah Rivers works hard. Is that a surprise?
He is the son of Doc Rivers, a former NBA player and now coach of the Boston Celtics. Needless to say, Jeremiah Rivers could live a comfortable life.
"We were spoiled," Jeremiah said. "We live in an amazing home.
But the term "spoiled" quickly needs to be defined in the Rivers household. It means blessed with opportunity. It does not mean coddled.
Jeremiah Rivers, 25, is the son of Doc and Kristen Rivers, and older brother to Callie, Austin and Spencer. A key word in the house was "accountability."
"You need to create your own success," Kristen said last week while visiting Portland.
She knows the stereotype of spoiled rich kids.
"I don't know if economics has anything to do with it. I think it's a choice parents make, on how involved you want to be -- how hands-on you are," she said.
"It's easier to watch TV and let stuff go. ... It's harder to yell."
Kristen has raised her voice. So has Doc. They are disciplinarians like their own parents. They have also been with their children every step.
"We're a close-knit family," Jeremiah said. "Nothing but love and support in my family."
Home base is Winter Park, Fla., a suburb of Orlando. From there the Rivers family travels -- a lot. Jeremiah has played basketball at Georgetown and Indiana universities. Callie was a volleyball player for the University of Florida and now works in Miami. Austin played basketball for Duke and is now with the New Orleans Hornets of the NBA, and Spencer is a junior at Winter Park High.
Doc Rivers' travels to see his kids are legendary, taking red-eye flights after Celtics games to catch a son's or daughter's game.
"The man does not sleep, man," Jeremiah said. "Seriously, he doesn't sleep."
As for mom, "she's definitely the backbone of the family. And she is all over the place. She was just in New Orleans, running the marathon there and seeing Austin."
Running a marathon?
"Yes sir," Jeremiah said.
Last weekend, after enjoying a visit from Callie to Boston, Doc and Kristen Rivers, along with son Spencer, drove to Portland to catch Jeremiah's game with the Red Claws. Doc Rivers was skipping the Celtics' practice that day.
"You have to make time. It's your family," Doc Rivers said. "You want to spend as much time as possible with them."
Last Sunday was a special game, too. Since high school, Jeremiah has played in pain, on sore feet. He has missed the last 15 months because of surgeries on both feet, removing bone spurs on both, and a cyst on the Achilles tendon of one.
"The surgeries were so intense. I wondered if I was ever going to play again," Jeremiah said.
The Red Claws drafted Rivers but he wasn't healthy enough to play. He still came to Portland often, rehabbing while his teammates played. He was activated Feb. 18 and has played five games for Maine. Sunday was the first time his parents saw him in a Red Claws uniform.
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Rivers is the oldest of the four children of Celtics Coach Doc Rivers and his wife, Kristen.
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Celtics Coach Doc Rivers is known for making it to his kids’ games, no matter the hardship. And that included a visit to the Portland Expo to see his son, Jeremiah.