C-USA Tourney Starts on Sad Note For Tigers Star

C-USA Tourney Starts on Sad Note For Tigers Star

The Memphis Tigers are unstoppable, but one player is stopping for a moment to grieve the loss of his grandmother.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Memphis Tigers are unstoppable but one player is stopping for a moment to grieve the loss of his grandmother. University of Memphis Senior Forward D.J. Stephens missed Tuesday’s practice. Now it's up in the air if he will play the first game of the C-USA Tournament. The team is set to leave a charter flight Tuesday night to arrive in Tulsa.

Stephens was very close to his grandmother. He tweeted this earlier, "R.I.P Emma Stephens. I love you so much grandmother. You were a phenomenal woman and you helped me grow up to be the man I am today."

Fans are hopeful he will be ready to play in Tulsa Thursday night.

"He’s good rebounder, he’s athletic, and probably NBA prospect. We need him,” said Tigers fan Tajh Starnes.

Fans are talking about D.J. Stephens. The senior Tiger helped the team rack up an amazing record: undefeated in Conference USA, 16 - 0. If D.J. can't make Thursday's game his teammates say it's going to be hard to keep up the winning streak.

"That's going to be a big loss for us if D.J. can’t play,” said Tigers Guard Chris Crawford. “He brings a lot of energy. He gives a lot of 50-50 balls, offensive rebounds, and he just does so much for this team, things that we definitely need to win."

D.J.'s grandmother, Emma Stephens, died from a sudden heart attack Saturday night. Coach Josh Pastner says D.J. was very close with his grandmother.

"He's shaken up right now there's no question about that. We'll see in 48 hours whatever he feels best,” said Coach Pastner. “Family is most important, so if he feels he has to be with his family during this time obviously I’ll grant it to him."

In the meantime, Tiger Nation is waiting to see if the master of the dunk will suit up for day one of the C-USA Tournament.

"We're all waiting to see what's going to happen,” said Tigers fan Frederick Perry.

"I hope he's ok. I send him my blessings. It's a hard thing losing your grandmother, I hope he's alright,” said Starnes.

Stephens was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. He led the conference in blocks and he leads the Tigers in rebounds.
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