Bryon Houston: He Means A Lot To Me

STILLWATER – If anyone can relate to what Eddie Sutton has endured the past few months it is former Cowboy basketball player Byron Houston. The school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder (1989-92) went through a bout with depression and several run-ins with the law before ending up in jail. But in the past few years Eddie Sutton was there for him, even helping support Houston and his family when he returned to OSU. That's why Houston was there to support Sutton on Friday.

"To be honest, I'm happy for him," said Houston, who was one of numerous former Cowboy players at Friday's news conference in which Sutton announced his retirement. "He means the world to me.

"When he first came to Oklahoma State, and he will tell you, we butted heads. It took me a while for me to respect him – me being the loose cannon that I was. Once I went into the league (NBA) and went overseas (to play professionally), and the trials and tribulations that I went through, when he got back into my life … he means a lot to me."

Houston said he has a good understanding of Sutton went through since his driving under the influence arrest in February.

"Mine was depression and his was the back pain and alcoholism but basically it's all the same cycle – depending upon something else to aleve the pain. I know he's been through a lot," said Houston. "For him to just step up and say that he did have a problem, admit to the mistake and go on and try to help others. What more could you ask?"

But Houston said he didn't make a good first impression after Sutton was hired in 1990 to resurrect the Cowboy basketball program. Houston, who had just completed his sophomore season by averaging 18.5 points, remembers that his first one-on-one meeting with Sutton did not go well.

"When I first met him I told him I didn't like him," Houston said with a laugh following Friday's news conference. "It was just because Leonard Hamilton had left, and he was coming in as the new coach. I had mixed emotions about whether to stay or (transferring to another school). I'm glad I stayed.

"I really didn't say too much (in that meeting). I just looked at him with a mean mug, looked at him crazy, but he was his calm, confident self, (and) expressed what he wanted from me and the other players. I told him I wasn't going to live by it but after a couple weeks of running at five o'clock in the morning – five miles at five o'clock in the morning – I changed my mind.

"The other (favorite remembrance of coach Sutton) is when I came back to go to school (a couple years ago). He called me. I was working and he called me and said, ‘Brother, you need to get your butt in gear.' He was telling me I needed to get my act together. When you have someone you respect, and you go through so much and have been away for so long, and they call you and you can still confide it them, it means a lot. I had called and talked to some of the other coaches, and then he called me. When I was going through my stuff, he sent letters to me (in prison)… He's always been there for me."

Sutton said Friday that he will remain at OSU and help start a new program of alcohol education and support. Houston thinks his former head coach will be successful in his new endeavor.

"He's well respected by a lot of students, a lot of people," Houston said. "I think people will look at him and say, ‘If Eddie Sutton can go through it and get well, so can I.' It gives hope to a lot of people, so I think he'll do well."

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