Udonis Haslem returns to practice following death of his father

Miami Heat players Udonis Haslem, left, talks to Jimmy Butler during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Miami. Butler has missed multiple games because of the NBA's health and safety protocols(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Marta Lavandier, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

MIAMI – The captain of the Miami Heat returned on Sunday.

Udonis Haslem rejoined the Heat for practice.

Haslem missed the start of training camp following the death of his father.

Haslem said, “Probably the toughest time I’ve ever had to encounter, biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. I have no problem saying that my father is and always will be my best friend. After losing my mother 12 years ago, I just thought I’d have my father forever. Everything you see on the basketball court, all the catch phrases, the fire, the passion, the ability to get people to follow you and believe in themselves, that’s all my dad.”

Haslem said, “The journey was always how do I get back to a point where I can help these guys. How do I get back to a point where I can be a leader? How do I get back to a point where I can be this captain? How do I get back to a point where they expect me to be... It wasn’t easy and I’m still working on it. But, today was a good day.”

Haslem said his game copied the way that his father played. Haslem said that his father wore No. 40 and had a sweet mid-range game, just like him.

The Heat captain said, “It’s going to be hard moving forward without him. But, I’m prepared. My parents raised me and I’ve been through enough and I know that I can weather any storm.”

Haslem said it is very important to have his Heat family.

Haslem asked the Heat not to attend to his father’s funeral so that they can focus on the season.

However, he said he looked over and saw Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, Chris Quinn, and other members of the Heat organization.

Haslem called the Heat a bright spot during a difficult time.

About the Author:

David Lang is executive producer of the Local 10 sports department.