Jan 20, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
There was just something about him, those who knew him best would say.
He was inspiring without being apologetic; a smile was his favorite outfit. It was the way he carried himself, always looking out for others, that drew people close to him.
Matt Murphy was a one-of-a-kind kid.
“I’ll tell you about Matt in a nutshell,” Fayetteville-Manlius boys basketball coach Tom Blackford said. “There was one night, it had to have been our first game of the season a few years back, where I found myself sweeping the floor before the game. I looked up into the bleachers and saw Matt and said, ‘Why am I doing this and not you?’ His response was typical Matt: ‘Coach, I told you. I don’t do floors, I don’t do water and I don’t do towels.’ I asked him exactly what he does, and he just shot back with that smile of his.”
Murphy was F-M’s manager for three inspiring seasons until his graduation in 2010. He was more of an inspiration and motivator than a manager, his teammates say, which was endearing and fun for those who sat next to him on the bench.
What a lot of people didn’t know about Murphy was that he had been battling leukemia, cancer in his blood. He always managed to keep a smile and uplifting attitude throughout the entire process, which included two relapses.
But his spirit, his will, his drive, will not be soon forgotten by friends, family and the F-M community. At F-M’s home basketball game against Nottingham on Friday, Jan. 20, the Hornets are hosting a benefit of sorts. Jack Robinson and Elyssa Daggett, two F-M students, approached the family and asked if they could do a fund raiser in which the basketball team sells t-shirts as a way to bring money in for a good cause. Some of the money was donated to Golisano Hospital, the place Murphy received his treatment.
On the front is F-M’s logo. On the back is one of Murphy’s favorite sayings: Impossible is Nothing.
Blackford said he used to tell his players that nothing is impossible. Murphy, being a fan of Adidas, played with the words to come up with the phrase that Adidas uses to brand products.
“He took that term and made it his own,” Blackford said.
The team has sold almost 400 of the black with orange lettering shirts. Blackford said he’s hoping to have donated $4,000 when all is said and done.
Conner Chen, a senior captain of the team who is out for the season with an injury sustained during football season and was a friend of Murphy’s, praised everyone involved.
“I think it’s great the student body got so involved,” he said. “Matt was the guy who smiled and brought smiles to everyone else. He was always so positive and everyone was happy to see him. He really lived his life to the fullest.”
According to Kevin Murphy, Matt’s father, Matt was a driven individual whose intentions were easily visible.
“I know what he meant to the team and the community,” Kevin said. “You think about it, then you realize — Matt was a big part of that team for a while.”
During Matt’s senior year, he received something that became a gift to all involved. On Senior Night, Blackford had Matt suit up for the game. Then he put him in. Though Matt was unable to score, Blackford said everyone in attendance was cheering emphatically.
“I’ll always remember that,” Blackford said. “I can’t remember a time I saw a crowd reaction so intense.”
“For me to see him play was beyond special,” he said. “I was a player at F-M and his mother was a cheerleader, which made it even better.”
Matt wanted to be a sports commentator, and decided he was going to attend Syracuse’s NewHouse School to fulfill that dream.
F-M varsity basketball player John Schurman, a sophomore, met Matt last season as a member of the junior-varsity team, but says Matt made an immediate impact.
“We sat at the end of the bench for a game, and we struck up a friendship,” Schurman said. “We started texting each other and stayed friends through everything. My father works at the hospital and started visiting Matt a few times a week. It was a huge loss when he passed away.”
His family is very gracious for what the community has done.
“There are a lot of benefits out there, and we’re very thankful for this,” Kevin said. “We recognize there has been a lot of money spent and donated, and we’re very grateful. We appreciate it.”
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.