While many people claim to have the “No. 1 Dad,” even proclaiming so through mugs and t-shirts, former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton’s sons can go even further: their dad is now a Hall of Famer.
But even after the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame called the Sutton house on April 3 to make the news official, Scott, the youngest brother, said his father was always in his -- and many other people’s -- Hall of Fame.
“It hasn’t changed obviously how I feel about him,” Scott said. “Everybody that knows him and has seen firsthand the impact that he’s had on and off the floor knows that he’s a Hall of Famer. He’s been my hero my whole life and I’m just glad he’s finally got the recognition.
“People that know him personally believe that he didn’t need this to validate what we already knew, but it’s awfully nice that it finally happened.”
This induction is the culmination of Sutton’s 36-year career in which coached five Division I programs, went to three Final Fours and won two Big 12 Tournaments. With these accolades, come prominent friends. For Sean Sutton, the middle child and a huge basketball fan growing up, this was the dream childhood.
“For me, since I loved basketball from such a young age, it was really exciting to see the success that he had,” Sean Sutton said. “The different people that you’d run into, and obviously I had a chance to meet a lot of great coaches that coached this game, but also a lot of the legendary sports figures that I idolized growing up, and so that was always special to me to be able to meet those people.”
Because of his long career, Eddie Sutton has mentored many players over the years. Sutton would always take the extra step to make a deep connection with the people he coached. For the Sutton brothers, this created an expansive group that was like having additional siblings.
“The one thing that I think separated him and made him such a special coach is the relationships he had with his players,” Sean said. “He felt like outside his faith and his family, there was nothing more important in his life than the guys that played for him… The influence that his players had on me growing up, a lot of them were like a big brother to me. And always gave me really good advice and guidance.”
Years later, Scott and Sean are now coaches themselves, serving as assistants at OSU and Texas Tech, respectively. A Big 12 rivalry, for sure, but nothing that would get in the way of the two of them coming together at Eddie’s house to await a much-deserved phone call.
“The guy from the Hall of Fame called and said, ‘This is a phone call I’ve wanted to make a long, long time,’” Scott said. “Like everybody, my emotions hit me. But then I realized, Sean’s not even down here. So I ran to the stairway and hollered up for Sean to get downstairs.
“Obviously (it was) very exciting and emotional and a wonderful memory.”