Mickael Pietrus will celebrate his 30th birthday on Tuesday in front of over 18,000 fans at the TD Garden during the Celtics-Bobcats game. But of all the people who will be in the crowd, one person will not be there, a harsh reality he has been living with since childhood.
I lost my mom when I was 9 years old, he told CSNNE.com. To me, a good birthday, anybody can give me a gift and you always have an appreciation, but its not coming from your mom. The person who raised you, who gave you that life every year, now shes gone. That doesnt make any sense to me. So I kind of take it from my heart and thats it.
Pietrus mother, Coco Claudine, was the center of his world. The youngest of his siblings, Pietrus was the baby and doted on by his adoring mom. Now the father of two children of his own, there are special moments Pietrus would like to share with his mother. Her passing is still incomprehensible to him.
She was sick and she could not take it anymore, he remembered. So instead of her suffering, God made that choice for her to rest in peace. That was when I was young. Its going to be a special day for me to be 30, to have two kids, but not having my mom around to play with my kids and stuff like that -- some people who are always hard on their mom, youve got to enjoy your mom. Youve got to enjoy your family because whenever stuff happens, you always have regrets and youre always going to miss them.
After his mothers death, Pietrus moved from France to the island of Guadelope to live with his grandmother. He was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2003 and has carried his mothers memory with him throughout the NBA since then.
When I step on the floor I pray for my mom, he said. I pray for my kids. I pray for myself, too, so everything goes right, I do the right thing on the floor to help my team be successful because at the end of the day, she always wanted to see me -- even though shes not with me -- have a smile on my face and go from here. Be positive in your life, dont look back, dont look at what I did for you, just do the best to raise your kids and educate them the best way you can.
Pietrus wants others to be happy because he knows the feeling of sadness.
With one of the most charismatic personalities in the league, he sings LMFAOs catchy song line, Im sexy and I know it, when the Celtics win; he dances to demonstrate his once sore back is no longer bothering him; and soaks up the spotlight when talking to the camera.
Pietrus also makes frequent mentions of his appreciation for life, a point he has emphasized several times this season.
I miss my mom, he said. People see me enjoy all this stuff, but at the end of the day Im trying to think of my mom every day.
Not wanting to let a moment pass him by, Pietrus is looking to seize the opportunity and help the Celtics win now. While he believes he can play another ten years in the league, he is focused on his role this season. The swingman is averaging 8.0 points per game and has given the bench an instant offensive spark.
My 30-year-old stage is trying to get something done in terms of basketball, trying to get a ring, he said. Between 20 and 28, you just want to show the coaches that youve got game, but at 30 youre more relaxed. They know what to expect from you on the floor as a professional and the coach respects you more because youre not like a young kid trying to show him what you can do. Thats what my 30 years old will be. Coach can trust me because now Ive got two kids and I have a family.
Pietrus looks forward to celebrating his birthday on the parquet floor. As always, he will approach the game with a positive attitude and soak up the energy from the crowd.
He will think about the one person he cant be with that day and appreciate the people he is with.
The game is like a fiesta, he said. People deal with so many issues at home and for me, to play in front of 20,000 people, they dont understand that Im trying to transcend a message. Life is short -- enjoy it. Im here to enjoy it with you. Bad time or good time, Im here to enjoy it with you. I see the smiles on all of the kids faces.
Every time Im out on the floor, enjoy it with me, ride with me.