It was a hectic few days for Russell Byrd to say the least.
The former Michigan State and now Master’s College guard saw his daughter, Addison Mae, born Friday then hopped a flight with his teammates to East Lansing.
”The wife (former MSU women's basketball player Klarissa Bell) gave me permission to hop on a plane and enjoy this experience out here,” Byrd said. “As soon as I got out here it's just been a lot of fun.
”It feels like home, it doesn't feel foreign. It was good to get home again.”
Byrd knew it would be a homecoming after spending his first three seasons in East Lansing, one of which saw him named a team captain. He did know until a few minutes before tip off that he would receive a special introduction.
It went from Byrd just expecting to play some basketball to being blown away. Byrd kissed the floor in a pregame ceremony after being the final player in the starting lineups introduced as he was greeted by his former teammates at center court and received a standing ovation from those on hand.
”It's just something I'll always remember the rest of my life,” Byrd said. “I love this program, I love the people in it, and it's a really, really special place.”
After that, Byrd went on to score 22 points in the 97-56 Michigan State win. He hit his first shot on a step back 3-pointer. He airballed his next attempt and heard it from the Izzone, which chanted “airball” as he smiled and waved it off.
”I wouldn't have it any other way,” he said. “They wouldn't be the Izzone if they didn't chant air ball. I'm just glad I made a few.”
He made more than a few early in the second half as he had 14 straight points for Master’s at one point, including four 3-pointers.
The game brought with it laughs with former teammates, talking about being a parent with Branden Dawson, who has a young son, but above all, Byrd was just thankful for the opportunity to play one last game at Breslin before kicking off a year of basketball at a school he said has been perfect for him.
”The people there have been very supportive and encouraging as far as my goal as a player,” he said. “I'm just excited to help them in terms of athletics, as well as being a student there, being a leader in the student body, and just trying to bring some excitement to the campus. …
”I'm just excited to play another year of basketball. … I'm excited about this year with Master's College."