uggs usa Valparaiso hurricane relief game hits home for Houston Joe Burton
Valparaiso’s Joe Burton knows he and his family members were among the fortunate people.
The 6 foot 6 junior swingman, a Houston area native, is beyond thankful he can offer a degree of levity within the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Burton, who resides in Porter, Texas, departed for school two days before the hurricane hit. His mother, father and brother evacuated to stay with an aunt who lives in another part of the city that wasn’t affected.
When they returned home, everything was intact.
“My family luckily was OK all my family was OK,” Burton said. “Some of my friends weren’t so lucky. Some of my friends’ houses were completely under water. Everything was destroyed.
“It was a big culture shock. Weather like that happens all the time, just another storm, but we didn’t expect it to be that big. Luckily I left two days before anything happened. If I had stayed an extra two days, I probably would’ve been stuck in Houston. And luckily my mom and my brother and my father were able to get out of there and get somewhere safe before the hurricane came.”
But it was still a harrowing experience for Burton. Given the circumstances, the coaches allowed him to bring his phone to practice in case his family called with any updates.
“It got pretty rough, pretty rough, but our home was OK,” Burton said. “My clothes are still there, all my shoes are still there, thank God. I told my brother, ‘Man, move my shoes to the top please. Saturday at Chicago State will be special one for Burton, who sat out last season at Valparaiso after transferring from Oklahoma State.
The game was scheduled in order to raise funds and awareness for relief efforts associated with the several recent hurricanes.
Burton was considered a four star prospect and Top 100 recruit nationally as a high school player.
“The city is me and I’m the city,” Burton said. “So this game really means a lot to me and the team. It’s going to mean everything to get that win against Chicago State.”
The NCAA granted waivers for teams to play a third exhibition/scrimmage if the proceeds go to disaster relief. Players are not allowed to miss class.
Valparaiso has played twice at the Athletics Recreation Center, with a closed scrimmage Saturday against Northern Illinois, then an exhibition game Thursday against Robert Morris, with Burton scoring 11 points in 117 69 win.
The exhibition between the Crusaders and Cougars was facilitated by a family connection between the programs. First year Valparaiso assistant Emanuel Dildy and eighth year Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy are cousins.
Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $10. Proceeds will be donated to the Lutheran World Relief organization, according to details provided by the schools.
Considering the cause and the Crusaders’ desire for their reconfigured and relatively inexperienced team to get additional court time, Valparaiso jumped at the chance.
“We’re excited about going to Chicago,” Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich said. “We try to embody the university and the university makes it pretty clear it’s a privilege to be here and with privileges there are responsibilities.
“If you have an opportunity to lift someone else up or help in any way, we have to do that. Our guys embrace that. We’re really excited to give back. But we’re also excited with a young team for an opportunity to compete before it really counts.”