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Brian T. Smith: Utah Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin reconnects with family during NBA lockout

Published August 20, 2011 4:50 pm

NBA lockout gives Utah Jazz coach time to visit mom in South Carolina, guide son into college.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Tyrone Corbin is allowed to think about Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter. He can privately contemplate the Jazz's uncertain future, break down videotape, converse with assistant coaches and scouts, and regularly check in with general manager Kevin O'Connor.

Corbin just isn't allowed to publicly mention his players. Nor can he officially address an NBA lockout that is approaching the two-month mark and shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

Which leaves Corbin in a bit of a quandary. Right now, he's little more than a second-year coach in waiting. His hands are tied, his lips are sealed. And in many ways, he's unable to perform or even acknowledge his dream job until NBA owners and players discover middle ground and call off the work stoppage.

"We hope the [players] are doing what they need to do for when they come back," Corbin said. "We're going to be ready by preparing ourselves as a unit to give them everything we think they can handle to give ourselves a chance to get better."

There's one item close to Corbin's heart that he can talk about, though, no matter how long the lockout lasts. And the Jazz coach who acknowledged toward the end of a roller-coaster 2010-11 season that he was going a little stir crazy has found solace in the one thing that always supports him, and is indifferent to whether he walks off the court after each contest as a winner or loser.

Corbin has turned the NBA's broken game clock into a personal journey, temporarily pausing the hectic life of the association to reconnect with his family. He recently returned to his South Carolina roots, spending time with his mother while receiving the key to his hometown of Columbia. Corbin also again became a full-time husband to his wife and a father to his children, rather than just being the 48-year-old man alternating Jazz workout clothes with sharp suits and known to most only as "coach Ty."

"It was really refreshing just to sit back a little bit and enjoy your family," Corbin said.

Part of the joy came from passing his family's torch on to the next generation. Corbin's son, Tyrell, has taken the first steps toward becoming a man at the same time that the NBA is stuck in limbo.

Tyrell is enrolled in his second summer session at UC Davis, knocking out initial classes while dreaming of Division I collegiate hardwood.

The former West High standout has already dealt with being homesick, overcoming the gnawing pain by following the advice of his father.

It's a road that Corbin crossed when he transitioned from Columbia to DePaul University in Chicago. Now, the father is helping to guide his son along the same path.

"I reminded him that we raised him to be a responsible young adult and this is what it takes. … You have a responsibility to be a good person. You have a responsibility to do your job on the court and off of it," Corbin said.

They're the same words Corbin preached to the Jazz last season, and the same ones he'll use whenever the 2011-12 campaign begins and he can mention names such as Favors, Hayward and Kanter once again. For now, Corbin's passion is reserved for his family — especially the son whose life is just beginning.

"It's been really interesting and pleasing to me. … He's doing very well," Corbin said.

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