NEW YORK — Frank Martin walked across the court at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night with his arms held high. When the South Carolina coach finally brought them down, he embraced his wife, children and mother.
Later, after celebrating the Gamecocks’ 77-70 win against Florida, Martin praised his mother, Lourdes, as the “strongest woman I’ve ever met” and highlighted why on the highest platform of his coaching career.
“Husband runs out, leaves her, never gives her a penny, she never takes him to court,” Martin said. “Doesn’t make excuses. Worked on a salary for — as a secretary. Raised my sister and I. We’d go to Wendy’s or Burger King every two Fridays, that was our family meal. She gave me the courage to try and do this for a living. Every time I’m in a difficult moment and I got to make a choice and do right or do wrong — I made her cry one time when I was a teenager because I made the wrong choice. I’m never making her cry again for making the wrong choice.
“And watching her cry tears of joy because of all her sacrifices have allowed me and my sister to move forward in life. Those are the tears that are important to me. That’s extending her life. When you make your mother cry for joy, it gives her more life and she’s a special lady. Special lady.”
Martin’s parents came over from Cuba and he was born in the United States and raised in Miami.
Martin and the Gamecocks face No. 1 seed Gonzaga in Glendale, Ariz., at 6:09 p.m. ET Saturday on CBS.