Oklahoma State basketball: Why Marcus Smart wears No. 33

OSU BASKETBALL — The No. 3 is tattooed on the back of both of Marcus Smart's arms. It's on the back of his jersey, doubled as 33. Why so many 3s? It's a tribute to Smart's half-brother Todd Westbrook, who died following a long battle with cancer in 2004.
by John Helsley Published: March 13, 2013
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photo - The Cowboys’ Marcus Smart has the No. 3 tattooed on the back of his arms. He wore that number in high school before switching to No. 33 at OSU, where the No. 3 has been retired.  Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
The Cowboys’ Marcus Smart has the No. 3 tattooed on the back of his arms. He wore that number in high school before switching to No. 33 at OSU, where the No. 3 has been retired. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

“He got in the pool, swam with us, took us for ice cream. I was like his son. And he treated me like his son, but also his brother.”

Todd died when Marcus was 9, finally passing in a hospital bed with family surrounding him.

Gone was Marcus' brother and mentor and second father.

“It was devastating,” he said. “When they finally declared that he was gone from this earth, I think everybody's heart stopped. It took their breath away. We couldn't believe it. I woke up the next day asking my mom, ‘Was I dreaming? When is he coming back?'

“It didn't hit me until a couple years later. Out of nowhere, I just broke down and cried.”

Camelia Smart, the boys' mother, understood the bond between Todd and the rest of the boys, especially Marcus as the youngest. And she watched helplessly as Marcus struggled to deal with his death.

“Todd was a beautiful young man, he really was,” Camelia said. “He was the glue to the family. He was awesome. And the boys looked up to him.

“So it was hard on Marcus, being so young. Not only that, my mother had lived with us, and she passed a couple years before Todd. Even though Marcus was small, that was hard, because grandma was always there. And then Todd. That was rough.”

Marcus carried Todd's death – and life – on with him.

As a high school freshman, he got his first tattoo: “Rest In Peace.” The No. 3, and now 33, also provides a constant reminder.

And as Marcus grows and matures, family and friends say they can see Todd shining through him.

“From what they tell me, he was a heck of a ballplayer,” Marcus said. “I hear all the stories. And I hear it all the time, ‘If Todd was here, man, he'd show you all what basketball really is.'

“But he is here. They all say I look the most like Todd. Every year, they say I look more and more like Todd. It puts a smile on my face. And like my brothers say, you have met Todd, through me. I feel like that's actually true. And I actually feel like when I'm playing on the court, the sixth man, I feel like my brother's out there playing with me, through me.

“When they say they can see Todd in me, I feel like I'm finishing what he started.”

by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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