Winston stars for Spartans after brother’s death

Cassius Winston started for top-ranked Michigan State on Sunday, a day after his younger brother Zachary Winston died when he was struck by a train.

Winston, an AP preseason first-team All-American, recorded 17 points and 11 assists in the Spartans’ 100-47 rout of Binghamton. He received a standing ovation at the Breslin Center when he exited the game with 4:46 to play and shared a hug with coach Tom Izzo and every player and staff member on the Michigan State bench.

Albion Chief of Public Safety Scott Kipp said Zachary Winston was hit by a westbound Amtrak train in Albion, Michigan, shortly after 8:30 p.m. Saturday. According to Kipp, Winston stepped in front of the train as it approached a pedestrian crosswalk just past the Erie Street crossing.

Zachary Winston was one of Cassius’ two brothers who played for the Albion College basketball team. He was a sophomore at the school.

Michigan State held a moment of silence for Zachary before the game against Binghamton, with both teams lining up on the court. Cassius Winston wore a hoodie and rocked back and forth slightly while the public address announcer spoke to the crowd.

“As you can imagine there’s a million emotions going on right now with everybody, and I just said, ‘We’re gonna play with a broken heart, but we’re going to play,'” Izzo told the Big Ten Network after the game.

Earlier, Izzo had released a statement saying, “Our hearts are filled with sorrow for the Winston family. Their pain over the sudden loss of Zachary is unimaginable. It’s impossible to find the right words in this moment, other than to say that we will support the family in whatever way they need.”

Michigan State assistant coach Dane Fife also tweeted about Zachary Winston’s death.

Michigan State faced Albion in an Oct. 29 exhibition game in which both Cassius and Khy Winston played. Zachary Winston sat out because of a hamstring injury.

Albion College president Mauri A. Ditzler said Zachary Winston was “deeply loved and will be deeply missed.”

“As a community, our hearts are broken today as we share the news of the passing of one of our students, Zachary Winston,” Ditzler wrote in a statement. “Zach was a finance major, a student in the Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management, and member of the Albion College men’s basketball team. Beyond that, he was an extremely charismatic young man with an infectious smile. Zach was a recognized leader who was well known across every facet of our campus. He was a fantastic student with a world of potential before him. He was deeply loved and will be deeply missed.

“Our hearts go out to his brothers, Khy, who is a freshman at Albion, and Cassius, who is a senior at Michigan State University, his parents and his extended family. We echo the family’s request in asking everyone to respect their privacy at this time.”

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