A mother's love embraced her son and his team as well.

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All Star
Posts: 2261
» Sat Dec 01, 2007 3:34 am
Gwen Knapp
Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sacramento -- Ann Barnes told her son that she'd be with him no matter where she was, whether clinging to the final days of her life on earth or moving into another world, beyond the cancer that consumed her body so quickly and ruthlessly. She wanted him on a basketball court again, with the team she came to love almost as much as her husband and three children.

So Matt Barnes played. He left her bedside at a Roseville hospital to rejoin the Warriors on Monday night, ending a five-game sabbatical. Less than four hours after that game ended, Ann Barnes was gone. Her family spent the next day and a half planning her memorial service, then went to Arco Arena for another Warriors game, Matt in uniform, his siblings Danille and Jason in a suite with their father, Henry.

There was, Matt said, no better way to honor her final wishes.

"She said she wanted to be buried in her jersey," he said quietly Wednesday, two hours before tip-off. "We got a jersey made for her, with her name on it. We're not going to bury her in that, but we got a jersey made for her."

He wasn't playing merely to escape from his loss. He was playing to hold onto her. She brought so much warmth to the sport, he said, embracing his teammates, giving them a second home when they were far from their own.

When Barnes played with the Kings, the younger players on the team went to his family's Fair Oaks house for Thanksgiving dinner. When he went to UCLA, Baron Davis took to his mom immediately.

"She was very warm, and instantly became like my aunt," he said. "Amazing spirit, an amazing spirit. It's so sad she's not here anymore."

Davis wore a red rubber bracelet inscribed with the name "Ann" and a little heart. The Warriors' equipment manager ordered a batch of them, and the players started wearing the bracelets a couple of games ago. Stephen Jackson wore two, one on each wrist.

At the end of Ann Barnes' life, basketball returned her love. With the Warriors last season, Barnes came into his own. He arrived in training camp as a borderline candidate for the final spot on the bench and ended as a starter on the NBA's most enthralling entry in the postseason. He began this season as one of the team's three captains.

"She had the time of her life at the playoffs. ... She got to see Matt at his best," coach Don Nelson said.

No one knew how little time she had left then. She was 50 years old, a former elementary school teacher, specializing in mentally challenged students, and then the manager of a dental office. As far as anyone knew, she was perfectly healthy. But a little more than a month ago, she was diagnosed with cancer of the kidneys.

"By the time they found it, it spread to her liver, her lungs, her uterus, her hip, and her umm ... somewhere else," Barnes said solemnly. "... It had completely taken over her body. She never really had a chance."

Over the last few weeks, he said, many of his teammates, past and present, checked in on her. Ex-Kings forward Chris Webber, Barnes said, always treated her wonderfully. Davis sent text messages, referring to "Moms" and promising that the team would pull out of its early slump for her.

The only game she could attend was the season opener against Utah. The Warriors set her up at courtside.

"The cancer took over so quick, she wasn't able to walk, so she had to come in a wheelchair," Barnes explained.

When the Warriors left for a five-game trip East, Barnes stayed in California. The entire organization, he said, supported his commitment to his mother.

"I missed my teammates, but it was an important time," he said. "I got to spend every single day with her at the hospital, and talking to her, just, I told her ... how proud I was of her and thanked her for everything she did for me and my family and how much we were going to miss her."

Last Thursday, she went home for one final day. The family celebrated two holidays at once.

"We decorated the house for Christmas and had Thanksgiving dinner," Barnes said. "All in one day. That's what she really wanted. We had all the lights. Everything she asked for. Out of this last month, that was probably the best time we had."

By tip-off, Barnes had his smile back, the boyish grin that makes him look far younger than 27. It was also a grown-up's smile, the countenance of a professional - and the perfect tribute to his mother.

All Star
Posts: 2261
» Sat Dec 01, 2007 3:38 am
WOW. Very moving.. God Bless Barnes & Family, R.I.P. Ann Barnes
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All Star
Posts: 1357
» Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:25 pm
Very nice article. Hope Matt and the family are okay.

All Star
Posts: 2261
» Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:21 pm
All for one: The entire Warriors team, including owner Chris Cohan and president Robert Rowell, attended the funeral for Matt Barnes' mother, Ann, at Mount Vernon Memorial Park in Fair Oaks (Sacramento County) on Tuesday.

Davis and Jackson were among the dozens to speak at the standing-room only service.

God Bless [-o< ..

Good to see Barnes getting support from his Warrior family.
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Franchise Player
Posts: 5705
» Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:23 pm
Barnes is a really popular player, on and off the court. I'm not surprised that everyone went.
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Hall of Famer
Posts: 18315
» Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:07 am
sfsfsfgiants wrote:Barnes is a really popular player, on and off the court. I'm not surprised that everyone went.

Yeah, but it's always nice to see the team together when something like that happens.
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Posts: 13751
» Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:38 pm
This just goes to show how well Chris Mullin and Don Nelson have done building such a cohesive team. Not only can they blow out a potential playoff team like the Bucks, but they also make time to all attend their teammate's mother's service. Thats the kinda closeness and kinship that Tom Tolbert loves to talk about on his KNBR show. Nellie builds that kind of team. Mullin is a genius for bringing him back. I cannot fathom the mindset of anybody who is against either of them in their current position.

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