Ed Waters Jr. was the basketball dad who didn’t want basketball to define his son. His son was Tremont Waters, who was a second-round choice of the Boston Celtics in last month’s draft.
On Thursday, police in West Haven, Conn., where Tremont Waters grew up, found Ed Waters Jr., dead in a local hotel, according to reports. The Associated Press reported that Ed Waters Jr.'s death has been ruled a suicide. He was 49 years old.
Days later, on Saturday, Tremont Waters started for the Celtics in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League while mourning his father. His family flew out from the East Coast to watch him during the game, according to the Boston Herald.
“From the Celtics side, from the top down everyone has offered and done as much as they can to help him, that’s obviously a lot more important than summer league basketball,” Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison said, according to the Boston Globe. “It was his choice to stay and play. He felt that was the best way he wanted to deal with it.
“I thought he played great, especially with all of those considerations. So we’re just here to support him and do all we can to help him. Just a really unfortunate situation.”
The Globe, which cited an unnamed source, reported that Tremont Waters knew of his father’s death when he played Thursday night, too.
Ed Waters Jr. took pride in helping to guide his son. Tremont Waters was 13 years old when someone told him he’d be an NBA player. Through high school, he was top college prospect. His parents, Ed and Vanessa, called themselves “Team Waters” as his primary support system.
“We all know, what comes with attention is responsibility,” Ed Waters Jr. told the New Haven Register in 2013 while Tremont was in prep school. “So now, we try to keep him humble and focused on the things that got Team Waters here, and what we’ve got to do to stay here. It’s a work ethic, being humble, and remembering why we got involved with this.”
Ed Waters Jr. made his son watch an ESPN “30 for 30” about athletes with financial issues, according to the Register, and told the paper he wanted him to graduate college.
“I always taught him how to be a great young man. What I love about sports, basketball teaches him leadership, how to lead by example, and how to be responsible for other people,” he said. “I just want him to one day get a degree from college and be able to feed himself, his loved ones, his kids later on in life. We love basketball, but it’s all about what type of young man he’s going to be, what type of husband, what type of father, a leader in his own community.”
That background set Tremont Waters off on sturdy ground as he began his journey to the NBA. In high school, he was named Connecticut’s 2017 Gatorade player of the year. He started right away at point guard in college at LSU and hit a late basket to knock off Maryland in the NCAA tournament in March. He decided to go pro after his sophomore season at LSU.
During summer league play, Tremont Waters averaged 10 points and 5.3 assists per game. Just days before his father’s death, he signed a two-way contract with Boston to split time between the Celtics and their G League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.
Saturday against Memphis he scored 16 points, and had three assists and two steals.