Detroit — Christmas always has been special for Pistons guard Langston Galloway. Beyond the gifts, it’s a time to spend with family and to be around basketball.
Family, love and basketball.
If there were a Galloway family crest, those would be three of the essential elements on the shield. When he was about 7 or 8 years old, Galloway got his first real basketball hoop, a step up from the plastic model he had.
That’s when it basketball starting to become real for him.
“It was my first basketball hoop because (before) I had the Fisher-Price goal,” Galloway said. “One Christmas, I woke up and got in the living room and my father was putting the backboard and rim together and he said, ‘We’re going to set it up and we’ll get it outside. Let’s start shooting on this 10-foot goal.’”
Galloway’s wife, Sabrina, has a similar story, in her formative years as a standout multisport athlete in softball, volleyball and basketball in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she and Galloway were high-school sweethearts before getting married two years ago.
“The one specific gift I remember was a fast-pitch machine and it happened to be so cold that Christmas morning,” Sabrina recalled. “I woke up and I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness. It was self-pitch, so I could just hit, hit and hit.
“I went outside and hit all day. I had to come in and eat but I went back out and hit.”
In many ways, Christmas and sports are inextricably linked for the Galloway family. Just after Christmas last year, Galloway received another gift, getting the surprise from a basketball-themed gender reveal at Little Caesars Arena.
Last May brought the birth of their son, Langston Galloway II — also known as Deuce — and almost a year after the big reveal, it’s time for the Galloway family to celebrate the baby’s first Christmas.
They’ll have a big family gathering of about 10, with grandparents, aunts and uncles and a celebration for Deuce, who has a special significance for Sabrina’s side of the family.
“My mom has three sisters and all three of her sisters have girls. My mom has two (daughters), her younger sister has three and her middle sister has one,” Sabrina said. “(My grandmother) had three girls and her mom had two girls. It’s been a lineage of girls.
“I have a boy and my cousin has boys; we were the first ones to bring boys. It’s super special and her first grandchild.”
For the Galloways, Christmas is filled with memories, but more with thoughts of family than of toys and material things. Both Langston and Sabrina had parents who worked on Christmas Day, so getting to spend even a few hours together was significant.
Langston and Sabrina have tried to make sure that Deuce’s memories, at least for now, are different.
“During the holidays, it was time we spent together as family and it was what I want for my son,” Sabrina said. “I won’t be buying him that many gifts, but he’ll be able to spend time with his aunt and his uncle and their spouses and both sets of grandparents.
“Those are the things I want him to make sure he sees: the time he spends with family and the real reason for Christmas, and that’s Christ. That why we’re starting (a tradition) at such a young age, like our Christmas card”
Deuce is a godsend for Sabrina’s mother, who is also named Sabrina. When her husband died two years ago, she found a new outlet for her affection in her new grandson. She has moved in with the Galloway family and has been a helping hand.
“He keeps her company because when they get in a room together, their bond is so special,” Sabrina said. “He talks to her and she talks back and they have their own language. After the passing of my dad, it’s nice because she’s able to spend that quality time, which you won’t get back.
“She stops anything and everything for him and there’s a lot for us too because in this crazy NBA world, everything goes a mile a minute.”
The Galloways cherish the opportunity to be the hub for their family gatherings and reinforce the family values they want to set for Christmas. They’re taking their memories from their childhood and shaping them for the next generation.
“It’s just family. Growing up in Louisiana, we’d always spend Christmas as a family with my dad’s side because my dad is from Baton Rouge and my mom is from Philly,” Galloway said. “Some Christmases, we were able to go up to Philly and hang out with my mom’s side when I wasn’t playing basketball.
“The tradition now is to have all of our family from Baton Rouge and my wife’s family is coming up to Detroit to hang out and spend time together. That’s what it’s all about to me and that’s what means the most.”
Galloway is hoping for one Christmas gift: seeing Deuce walk for the first time. After that, it might be time to get Deuce his first basketball hoop.
And the cycle will continue.