- Associated Press - Monday, March 21, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Eddie Sutton sat courtside watching a basketball practice like he had so many times before.

The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1TQuRwI ) reports that when the legendary coach made a trip to Oklahoma City earlier this year, so much was different than it used to be. He wasn’t instructing and cajoling. He wasn’t jumping out of his chair and stalking around the gym, his body instead confining him to a wheelchair.

Still, as he observed the Memphis Grizzlies practice that January day, he hung on every word, the tactics and strategies and details.

His oldest son couldn’t help but smile as he watched the father he adores watch the game he adores.

“As a son, I love that he was still so lit up by something that is such a passion for him,” Steve Sutton said.

For many years, Eddie’s younger sons were the ones who rode shotgun on a basketball voyage that went from Creighton to Arkansas to Kentucky to Oklahoma State. Sean and Scott Sutton took up coaching like their dad; Steve went into banking and finance.

But even the three sons and their families have played bigger roles these past couple years - all of the Suttons gathered at Michael V’s Restaurant in Tulsa on Friday night to celebrate Eddie’s 80th birthday with his favorite, coconut crème pie - no one is more constant in Eddie’s life than Steve.

“I’m blessed,” the son said.

He considers it the result of divine intervention.

In 2010, Eddie and wife Patsy decided to settle in Tulsa. Steve lived there. So did Scott, who hired Sean as an assistant a year later at Oral Roberts.

Patsy looked all over town for a house before choosing one on the south side of town. It’s a house that is now four minutes from Sean’s house, six minutes from Steve’s and eight minutes from Scott’s.

“You couldn’t have said, ‘Oh, I’m going to make sure I’m in Tulsa at this point in my life, and I’m going to make sure I’ll be living on this side of Tulsa,’” Steve said. “None of us ever planned that.”

But he feels like a higher power was at work because after Patsy died of a stroke in 2013, Eddie needed help. His body was faltering. His health was failing.

One day, he sat Steve down for a talk. Eddie knew Scott and Sean had job demands that were rigid. When a game was scheduled, they had to be there. When a recruiting period opened, they needed to be on the road.

“I’d like for you,” Eddie told Steve, “to get a little more involved in my life.”

With the blessing of his wife and three kids and the flexibility of his boss at Summit Financial, Steve jumped in with both feet. He took the lead on Eddie’s medical care, keeping his brothers in the loop, shuttling his dad to appointments, and finding medical professionals who could make his dad as healthy and happy as possible. He makes sure Eddie gets to Sunday services at Life Church, Sunday dinners with the family and regular outings to the movies, a lifelong favorite. He chauffeurs his dad to everything from grandkids’ school programs and soccer matches to Scott and Sean’s ORU games and the occasional OSU game.

There were also a couple trips to Arkansas this year, the most recent coming a few weeks ago when the school raised an Eddie Sutton banner into the rafters.

But a month before that, Steve took his dad to Arkansas’ game against Kentucky. Eddie wanted to see John Calipari, a longtime friend.

“Had a great time talking together,” Steve said.

He relishes being with his dad for those moments.

“Sean, Scott and I. . we just want our dad happy,” Steve said. “It just gives us joy that at this stage in the game, he can still have big, happy moments.”

Eddie Sutton is still making memories.

But so is Steve Sutton.

Every evening, he visits his dad. Sometimes, he’s alone. Sometimes, he brings his wife or his kids. They might watch basketball on TV or just talk about how the day went. Regardless, Steve always kisses his dad on the forehead before he leaves.

It’s not just a show of affection.

It’s a sign of appreciation.

“I think all three of us boys realize how special that time is that we have with him right now,” Steve said, “because it’s so precious.”

Every day, it turns out, is a celebration of Eddie Sutton’s life.


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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