Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

To UNC's Green, all he knows is what he believes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The date is practically the same. For Danny Green, it is only the world that has changed.

At this moment, two years ago, Green was a freshman in his second semester at North Carolina. The Tar Heels had been upset by George Mason early in the NCAA Tournament, so an 18-year-old Green was busy catching up on his studies. He had no idea that a ringing cell phone would essentially mean the end of his youth.

The call was from a friend in the old neighborhood in New York. You better call home, the friend said, there are cops crawling all over your house.

Green dialed the number but no one picked up. He kept trying his father's cell phone, but that went unanswered, too. Hours passed before an uncle finally called to say Daniel Green Sr. had been arrested and charged with operating a multimillion-dollar cocaine distribution network.

"He said, 'Don't panic. It's a big misunderstanding,'  '' Danny Green recalled Friday in the UNC locker room. "I knew they had the wrong guy."


Later this evening, North Carolina will play Louisville with the winner returning to the Final Four for the first time since 2005. Whichever team prevails, there will be talk of perseverance. Of triumph over adversity, and of faith and dedication in times of great difficulty. And, in the proper context, the stories will all be true.

But real adversity goes far beyond a basketball court, and true faith has nothing to do with believing in your next jump shot. With that in mind, you may want to listen to Danny Green's story.


They were four guys, living alone and loving nearly every minute of it. Danny's mother moved out when he was 11, so he and two younger brothers were left in the care of their father, an elementary school teacher and girls basketball coach on Long Island.

The boys' grandmother would help when she could, but the brothers also looked out for each other. And they adored their father.

"He raised us. He was always there for us," Danny said. "He supported us in everything we did."

This is why, all this time later, he refuses to believe his father was part of a drug smuggling operation. This is why he has refused to be embarrassed, and is willing to talk openly.

This is why, for the past two years, he has written the initials ASNF — A Son Never Forgets — on his sneakers. The line is from the Robert De Niro-Cuba Gooding Jr. movie Men of Honor. Green had seen the movie some years earlier, and the line had struck a chord.

Now, he decided, he was going to live the line. He would believe in his father, despite the headlines. He would accept every collect call from the River­head correctional facility. He would make it home as often as he could to help his grandmother raise his brothers.

"It's impossible for anybody to understand what Danny has gone through," coach Roy Williams said. "I tried to tell him, 'Hey, I don't understand, I don't know, but I'm here for you.'  ''

With $5-million and 462 pounds of cocaine involved, bail was set at more than $7-million. Even when a grand jury handed up a lesser charge of conspiracy, bail was still beyond Green's reach at $4.5-million. So he sat in jail, awaiting trial, for 18 months before prosecutors came to him with an offer. If he would plead guilty to reduced charges, he would get a sentence of 1-3 years, including time served. If his case went to trial, Green would be looking at the possibility of 8-25 years.

"I didn't want him to take the deal. I told him to keep fighting until the end because he was innocent," Danny said. "But he said he couldn't take the chance."

Green entered a guilty plea late last year and, by Jan. 28, had been granted parole. That Monday night he was back home on Long Island with his younger sons when the door opened and Danny walked in.

"He was shocked," Danny said. "He said, 'What are you doing here? Do they know you left? You're going to get in trouble.'  ''

Danny had told Williams about his father's release, so the coach gave him permission to skip a couple of days of practice. Danny brought his ACC championship ring from the year before, a slew of news­paper clips and DVDs of Carolina games to give to his father.

"When he was inside, he tried to watch me as much as he could," Danny said. "Some of the other guys wanted to watch other games, so he had to get some of the big boys on his side to watch us."


The career has not gone as planned. Maybe it had something to do with the additional pressure of worrying about his dad and brothers, or maybe he just didn't quite measure up.

Whatever the reason, Green has put together a steady, but not spectacular, career. He is fourth on the team in scoring and second in rebounds, but has started only one game.

These days, playing time doesn't seem to bother him as much as in the past. He plays the role asked of him, and then waits for the postgame call from his father. Daniel Sr. has not seen a game in person since leaving prison because the terms of his parole do not allow him to leave the state.

If UNC wins tonight, he will go to his parole officer Wednesday and ask for permission to travel to San Antonio, Texas, for the Final Four. Danny doesn't hold out much hope.

But that's okay, he said. Even if his dad is not at the Alamodome, it would be enough to know he was at home.

After all, a son never forgets.

To UNC's Green, all he knows is what he believes 03/28/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2008 11:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half



    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.
  3. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  4. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games


    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  5. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.