Cavs guard Hughes rejoins team for Game 6

Updated: May 19, 2006, 7:45 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- With two fresh tear-drop tattoos falling from his left eye, Larry Hughes honored his dead brother the way he always has: through basketball.

 Larry Hughes
Hughes

Hughes rejoined the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night in time for Game 6 against the Detroit Pistons after missing the previous three games because of his 20-year-old brother Justin's death.

After speaking with his mother Thursday night, Hughes decided to return to Cleveland and be with his teammates.

"She wanted me to do what my brother would have wanted," Hughes said. "Throughout his life, whenever I had something to do, he wanted me to do it. It's kind of keeping on."

Hughes was activated for Game 6 and was in uniform, but he didn't plan to play.

"I'm happy to be back and try and do some normal things," he said. "I'm basically here to help. I'm not here to disrupt anything."

Cavs coach Mike Brown said he and Hughes decided that it was best for him not to play, but he could be used in an emergency.

"It wouldn't be fair to put him in after missing a week of basketball," Brown said. "We've made some changes in what we're doing offensively and defensively. I don't have any concerns about him dressing or not."

Flip Murray has started the past three games in place of Hughes, who missed 45 games of his first season in Cleveland because of a serious finger injury. Murray has averaged 9.3 points in the three starts.

Hughes played in Games 1 and 2, but left the Cavaliers on May 11 to be with his family following the death of his brother, whom he helped raise. Justin Hughes was born with a heart defect and underwent a heart transplant in 1997.

He had been in failing health in recent months. Larry Hughes left the Cavs briefly in December when his brother was in the hospital.

Larry Hughes has "I Am My Brother's Keeper" tattooed on his neck, after Justin's death, he had the tears inked on his face.

"I have a lot of them and I express myself different from other people," Hughes said. "It means a lot to me."

Following their Game 4 win at home, the Cavaliers flew to St. Louis and attended Justin's funeral before heading to Detroit. They got a chance to visit briefly with Hughes, who wrote: "My life is his world. His life is my everything," as a tribute to his little brother.

"It meant a lot," Hughes said of the Cavs' classy gesture. "Any time something happens every little bit helps, whether people realize it or not. That was a big thing. It was something you can't really put into words. It was a boost to my family."

Seeing Hughes was a lift for the Cavaliers, who dropped the first two games of the series but now have the Pistons, the NBA's best team during the regular season, one loss from elimination.

The Cavs have dedicated the series to Hughes and his brother.

"I'm just glad to see him smiling," LeBron James said.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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