Basketball, Profiles, Sports

Miami freshman pushes through pain by dedicating every game to late grandmother

Kelsey Marshall

Freshman guard Kelsey Marshall surveys the floor for an open teammate in a matchup against the Syracuse Orange. Miami would go on to win 72-67 on Jan. 18 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Josh White

Kelsey Marshall isn’t fazed by high pressure situations.

As a standout high school basketball player, she helped lead Miami Country Day School to two national championships, four state titles and a No. 1 national ranking during the 2016-2017 season.

But on Nov. 10, when it was time for her first official game at the University of Miami, the freshman guard was absent, and it wasn’t because she was nervous.

Her grandmother’s funeral was that day.

For the Davie, Florida, native, family has always been the top priority. Her parents and two brothers attend nearly every home game to cheer for her.

“I love it because I may not know the other people in the stands, but I know that I have four people who will always be there for me whenever I need them,” Marshall said. “And it’s really nice to have them sitting outside waiting for me and, after every game, going out to eat as a family.”

Kelsey Marshall

From Left: Joseph Marshall, Kelsey Marshall and Myrline Marshall together in Miami Beach. Marshall chose Miami over schools like Illinois and South Florida because it was close to home. Photo credit: Kelsey Marshall

UM’s location played a crucial part in Marshall’s decision to become a Hurricane.

“When you graduate high school, you are kind of on your own, but her parents still had that motherly and fatherly influence like, ‘This is still our baby,’” UM senior captain Erykah Davenport said. “She’s still really attached to her mom and dad. And since they’re so close, she’s available to go home often.”

But the family got some devastating news on Oct. 30, just a day before Miami’s first exhibition game.

Marshall was looking through Snapchat when she saw that her cousin had posted the news of her grandmother’s death. She then called her mom, who was crying on the phone. At that moment, she knew.

“A lot of things went through my head at that time,” Marshall said. “I was thinking back to all the little things I could have done for her and a lot more love I could have showed that I had for her. I had a lot of memories of when she was happy and smiling and laughing.”

Her grandmother, Lunie Joseph, had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease since before Marshall was born. But she also suffered from an undetected kidney failure, from which she died.

Just a few days prior to her death, Joseph was at home doing “perfectly fine,” being herself and speaking in her native Creole. But a few days later, when Marshall’s mother, Myrline, tried to feed her, she began to vomit, and blood gushed from her nose.

After the incident, Marshall spent the last four days Joseph was alive with her in the hospital. She missed basketball practice to be there with her grandma until the day she died.

“The days leading up to the passing of her grandma were just as hard as the actual day,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said. “Kelsey would see people that she really cared about and someone she really loved just hurting.”

But Marshall played in the Hurricanes’ exhibition game the very next day. She went through her typical routine and she was the first one on the court to warm up – an hour and 45 minutes before tip-off.

“She came and she gave to Miami when she didn’t have to,” Davenport said. “She could have really used that as a crutch by saying, ‘I’m not feeling my best so I don’t have to give Miami my best.’ She still wanted to give to Miami regardless of how she was feeling in her personal life, so I really respect that.”

Carlyle “Slim” Lewis, one of Marshall’s high school coaches, was right by her side during the difficult process. Unlike many coach-player relationships that fade after high school, Lewis is still one of Marshall’s basketball trainers. He pushes her to be better, and he regularly offers her advice.

“I told her, ‘Use that time on the court to dedicate your games to her,’” Lewis said. “’That’s the most you can do. Don’t sit there and find yourself stressing about something you can’t control.’”

Kelsey Marshall

Kelsey Marshall goes up for a shot in the paint during the Dick's National Championship Semifinals against Seton Catholic on March 31, 2017, in Chandler, Arizona. Marshall led Miami Country Day to a 55-48 victory to earn a berth in the finals. Photo credit: Kelsey Marshall

Marshall, who is averaging 7.5 points and two rebounds per game in her first year at Miami, has done just that.

“I always try to be the best person I can be because there is always someone close to me who is doing their best, so I try not to limit myself,” she said.

And for Marshall, the memory that will always stick out in her mind will be Joseph’s moments of pure joy.

“She didn’t really speak English, so the one thing I can always remember is when somebody else was laughing, even though she didn’t understand what you just said, she was going to laugh with you, just to laugh,” Marshall said. “That’s what I remember the most about her.”

January 22, 2018


Isaiah Kim-Martinez

Isaiah Kim-Martinez can be reached on Twitter at @isaiah_km.

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It wasn’t long ago when the Miami Hurricanes’ Class of 2020 included the top three rising senior pro ...

The Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship schedule is set. The No. 4 seed Miami Hurricanes ...

The first regular season of Gino DiMare’s head-coaching era ended Saturday at Mark Light Field. But ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ hopes for hosting an NCAA regional were damaged a bit on Friday night by a 12- ...

It took a long time for Dewan Hernandez to reach a point of acceptance for what happened to his juni ...

Imagine simulating diabetes, lung cancer, or heart disease on a device no larger than a credit card. ...

Alabama’s new abortion law puts the issue of women’s rights in the spotlight for the upcoming 2020 e ...

The University of Miami is shaping the future of education by using innovative approaches that drive ...

Six short films created by University of Miami film students will be screened in Los Angeles this we ...

Researchers from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries, hosted by the Institute for the Advanced ...

Four Miami Hurricanes were among those recognized by the Atlantic Coast Conference Monday for their ...

The University of Miami track and field program garnered 20 entries in the 2019 NCAA East Preliminar ...

Miami's schedule features seven matches against teams that reached the NCAA Championship. ...

The Canes head to the ACC Baseball Championship ranked in the top 20 in every major poll. ...

Beatrice Mompremier of the Miami women's basketball team will once again represent her country ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.