Video: Pistons bond with lifelong fan

The Detroit News

Lifelong Pistons fan Tony Smith enjoyed a day he'll never forget during the team's recent meet-and-greet at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The Redford man, 29, who suffers from a rare muscle disease Centronuclear Myopathy, was a special guest of the NBA team along with family members and caregiver.

The Pistons captured the event in a video that is  three minutes, 41 seconds.

Tony's love of all things Pistons started during infancy when he watched games on TV with his father Rodger.

"I'd never seen a baby get that excited about a sporting event," his mother Kathy says in the video.

Smith's physical therapist Betty Howell recalls he was twirling a Nerf basketball with his feet during their first meeting when he was 9 months old.

"I don't know a better Pistons fan than Tony," Howell says. "I think little basketballs flow through his veins."

At the meet-and-greet, Smith received a Pistons' warm-up top and other gifts while meeting with players and coach Stan Van Gundy. Unable to speak, he typed questions to the Pistons coach.

Many die from respiratory ailments due to Centronuclear Myopathy, says Howell, who believes Smith is the oldest survivor with the disease.

"A lot of time I want to say it's hard growing up with him as a brother, but at the same time I wouldn't know any different," Randy Smith says. "Every day challenges — what people think is challenging — it is normal.

"It's been awesome. He's a great brother.