Family honors late son at MSU basketball games
Dr. Eric Larson’s name being drawn for the Michigan State basketball free throw competition brought him and his family comfort after the loss of their son Andrew “Andy” Larson.
Andy was an energetic, goofy teen who loved sports and music.
“He was a great kid,” Eric said. “When you look at our family he was sort of the spice of the family. ... He always brought a lot of energy.
“That’s the thing we’ve noticed with him gone. That sort of intensity for life is a little diminished because there isn’t someone that has that much energy or zest for life.”
Andy, 14, was just named a starter on the JV soccer team at his new high school when he died in a car accident in August 2018.
Among everything he was dedicated to, Andy was also a lifelong MSU basketball fan.
“When he was in preschool I used to always want the Spartans to win because I knew if they lost, Andy would cry,” Andy’s mother, Dr. Marcy Larson, said. “I remember one year, it was the last game of the season and they lost to Ohio State. Andy was devastated and sobbing and I just didn’t even know how to console him. It was awful. He took everything to heart because it just meant so much to him.”
The family let Andy choose their season ticket seats for the 2018-19 season, but he died before attending a game.
“We thought about giving up his seat, but I just couldn’t do it,” Marcy said. “We invited somebody different to go to every game because I couldn’t handle there being a stranger in the seat that he helped pick out.”
When Eric entered the free throw competition he did not think anything of it. But he soon received a phone call asking if he would be able to participate.
“I’m thinking to myself, ‘Well, I don’t own a basketball, I don’t have a gym membership, I don’t have a basketball hoop. I haven’t really shot a basketball in about 25 years. So, I probably need to practice somewhere,’” Eric said.
Eric practiced at a friend’s house nearly every day. He would often bring his youngest child, 12-year-old Peter with him.
The competition brought the family joy and has helped them cope with the loss of Andy.
“When Eric got selected to do this free throw thing, nobody would have been more excited about it than him. I mean he just got excited about everything,” Marcy said. “It was kind of hard to have to do it without him.”
When Eric won the first round of the competition, he was reminded of Andy’s love and support.
“The first game when I won the round and I was going to get to go to the next round, I was crying in the car a little bit thinking about what it would have been like had Andy been around to experience that,” Eric said. “He would have been floating on a cloud for weeks as I kept advancing through the rounds. Those are the things that are hard about him not being around. You can imagine what it would still be like with him there.”
During the final round, at halftime of the game against Michigan, the Larson family brought Andy’s teddy bear along with them to the Breslin Center. When it was Eric’s time to shoot, he brought the bear to the court with him and set it under the basketball rack.
“Andy would have thought it was the best thing ever to be down there on the court in Breslin,” Eric said. “So, then I took him, the bear, to midcourt and had him kiss the (Spartan logo).”
Eric was defeated in the competition 11-7. Andy’s memory lives on as the family plans to attend the Big Ten championship March 15.