Why was Udonis Haslem excused from Friday’s game? To watch his son win a state football title

CHICAGO — Udonis Haslem was hesitant to ask. But in the end, the 14-year NBA veteran is happy he did ask.

Haslem was excused from Friday’s game in Cleveland to travel to Orlando to watch his son Kedonis Haslem, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound senior offensive lineman at Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas, win a second consecutive state football championship. St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Tampa-Plant 45-6 to win the Class 7A state title.

Haslem made it back to Chicago in time for the Heat’s game against the Bulls on Saturday night.

“I think it was a tougher decision for me to ask than it was for them to answer,” Haslem said about getting permission to miss Friday’s game to watch his son.

Udonis Haslem (Getty Images)

Udonis Haslem (Getty Images)

Haslem went through Heat president Pat Riley to get the green light. And Riley didn’t give much resistance, as Haslem said the response he got was “cool.”

It felt good for Haslem to make the game. The 36-year-old missed most of his son’s state championship run with his Heat duties keeping him away.

“He’s missed all of his son’s important playoff games and championship games,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Haslem. “It’s his senior year and UD has put in 13 years of service with us. You miss so many moments that we felt this would be a moment that he wasn’t going to miss and regret years from now.”

Haslem texted his son just hours before the contest to let him know he was on his way. He left Cleveland after Miami’s morning shootaround and arrived right before the game started to watch from the stands.

“I don’t do sidelines,” Haslem said.

But with a game against the Bulls in Chicago set for Saturday, Haslem left the stadium with a few minutes left on the clock to rejoin the Heat. It was still worth it, though.

“Last year I missed the state championship,” Haslem said. “I think I might have made like two games this year. I was just happy to be there to support him and show my face and just let him know family is the most important thing.”

Kedonis, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound lineman, played in the title-clinching game. He’s rated as a three-star offensive guard by 247 Sports with  FIU considered the favorite to land him.

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