Maxwell recalls just missing Marathon attacks

Maxwell recalls just missing Marathon attacks
April 15, 2014, 1:45 pm
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BOSTON — As we commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings today, its impact then and now has left an indelible imprint that will not be forgotten anytime soon.

This is especially true for former Boston Celtics legend Cedric Maxwell, who was standing where the first bomb went off just minutes prior to it exploding.

"I got a little cold," Maxwell, color analyst for the Boston Celtics on 98.5 The Sports Hub, told "That ended up saving me; I got a little cold and I didn't have a big coat on. So I went to get warm."

Maxwell strolled down to Norstrom's Rack and went to the second floor.

"And then the bomb went off," Maxwell said.

At the time, no one around knew exactly what had happened.

Maxwell said he thought it was kind of odd for there to be a cannon fired at that point in the race.

"And then we heard another one," Maxwell recalled.

Maxwell and a few other patrons looked out the window facing Boylston Street amid a sea of scurrying, tearful bodies moving aimlessly about, full of fear not only for what had happened but also for potentially what was next.

Not soon after that, Maxwell headed outside and began walking in the direction of where all the noise was coming from because at that point, he still wasn't sure exactly what was going on.

"And all of a sudden, somebody must have said, 'run!' And literally, I would say thousands of people started running towards me," he said. "I'm looking for someone behind them with a gun ... something was going on. So I run back into Norstrom's Rack and all kinds of people followed me in there."

Amid the chaos and uncertainty of what was transpiring, Maxwell then began to walk home which is usually a 10-minute stroll this time of year.

Moments into his journey to safety, he came across a police officer.

Maxwell asked the officer what was going on.

And the officer's response was succinct, but powerful.

"Max, go home," he recalled the officer telling him. "'Just go home.'"

On the walk home, he would run into people telling him all kinds of stories about what happened, like the man who said it was just fireworks and not that big a deal, to others who said people had actually died.

It wasn't until Maxwell returned to his home in the Tremont area did he finally realize just how close he was to the bombing.

While watching the news, he saw a woman on a stretcher with a red dress and a red bandana on her head.

Maxwell recalled standing near her when he was watching the marathoners cross the finish line earlier in the day.

But what really hit home for Maxwell was seeing that among the three people who died, there was Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Chinese graduate student at Boston University, who was standing next to him moments before he left the marathon finish line.

"So people that got hurt, I was standing there with them," Maxwell said. "And literally, no more than seven or eight minutes by the time I walked up the street and went into Norstrom's Rack, before I heard the first explosion."

And as a former NBA player, Maxwell knows all too well that success often comes down to talent and timing.

In this case, the latter - timing - may have saved his life.

"When you're that close to something that was a major tragedy ... look at all the people now with limbs blown off, the people who died," Maxwell said. "I look at the people who are trying to learn to walk again. If I had stayed another seven or eight minutes, I'd been one of these people they're talking about. And that's what kills me. I was there, right before it happened. Life is precious, man. It should never be taken for granted; never."