Fighting COVID-19: A family affair for ODU assistant basketball coach


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — On Mother’s Day weekend, ODU Assistant Basketball Coach Bryant Stith, his wife, and four adult children returned their hometown of Lawrenceville, Virginia, to celebrate two family matriarchs.

Other family members showed up, including a sister-in-law, who suspected something was wrong.

“One of our family members had received a COVID test. She was asymptomatic. She had been exposed to it by other family members. We did not know that,” said Stith.

Days later, positive results were confirmed, and one-by-one the Stiths had the telltale signs of COVID-19. His wife and children recovered in one week, but not the coach.

Stith, a former NBA player, was sick for more than three weeks.

“I had those chills, high fever, and then when it started to attack my respiratory system. I started coughing uncontrollably,” he said.

The 49-year-old says he rarely catches a cold, but what his children witnessed prompted him to seek medical attention.

“It was visibly upsetting to my daughters because when they came in and saw my condition, that’s when they started to cry. That’s when I knew I had to reach out and get some help,” he said.

Stith turned to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital where he spent eight hours in the emergency room.

“They gave me an inhaler and immediately I could just feel the congestion in my chest start to break up,” said Stith.

By Father’s Day, Stith and all family members, including the sister-in-law, had recovered from COVID-19.

As the coach prepares for a possible return to the basketball court, he has a message for the community.

“I tell everyone you have to be vigilant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year around strangers and even particularly around loved ones. You can’t let your guard down around strangers or family members because that’s where we contracted it and was exposed to the virus,” said Stith.

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