Ex-WMU, Southfield A&T star plays hero for new school the day after his dad's death

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
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When Michael Flowers was at Western Michigan, he lost his mom, Joyce, to pancreatic cancer in 2018. 

On Tuesday, he lost his dad, Henry, also to cancer — and then on Wednesday night, he still went out and had a spectacular debut for his new school, South Alabama.

Michael Flowers.

Flowers led his new team with 20 points and hit the winning shot, a 3-pointer, with 1.1 seconds left in a 68-66 victory over Florida Atlantic at Mitchell Center in Mobile, Alabama.

Henry Flowers had been battling cancer for quite some time, and Michael Flowers left the team for a week before the season to see him.

"Tough kid," South Alabama coach Richie Riley told The News on Wednesday night.

"A lot of tears shed in the last 24 hours.

"He's special."

It was Henry Flowers who introduced Michael to basketball when he was in middle school.

Flowers, 21, a former Southfield A&T star, led Western Michigan in scoring last season, but decided to transfer after three seasons at Western Michigan — starting every game the last two seasons — when longtime coach Steve Hawkins was fired.

Hawkins emerged as a Kalamazoo-based father figure for Flowers after his mother died.

"He was gonna be there for me, whatever I needed," Flowers told The News in September.

Flowers' former coach and teammates sent their condolences on Twitter on Wednesday night. Rafael Cruz Jr. called Flowers "the strongest guy I know." Kawanise Wilkins wrote, "Love You Money Mike always and forever brother." Hawkins wrote, "Mike is one of the toughest people I’ve ever coached, but a man can only take so much. ... Please pray for my guy."

Flowers spent much of the offseason wondering if he'd even get to play. His plea to be immediately eligible was initially denied by the NCAA — Flowers accused Western of holding it up; Western denied that — but eventually was overturned, allowing him to suit up on the opening day of college basketball Wednesday.

Flowers, a point guard, was 5-for-6 on 3-pointers Wednesday.

He averaged 17 points last season at Western Michigan.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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