TORONTO — While some coaches treat a game as if it's going to war, Kevin Knox is well aware of the difference between the game and the real thing as he prepares for Sunday night’s game at Madison Square Garden against the Magic.
For most of his life on Veterans Day, Knox spent time with family as they honored his close ties with the military. His grandfather, Levi Knox, spent 26 years in the Air Force and would gather the family together. But there is one family member, Kevin Knox’s uncle, Major Raymond G. Estelle II, who won’t be there. He was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011.
Knox said he celebrates the military, but never considered it a career with sports taking the forefront in his life from an early age. “We were pretty close,” he said of his uncle. “We used to spend so much time together at my grandparents house. I was still kind of young, maybe 11 or 12 probably, when he passed away. I just want to make sure to go out and play hard, because I know he’s watching over me and I know that he wants the best for me.”
Knox has spoken of the respect ingrained in his family by his father, who pushed him, but doesn’t curse at all. That began with his grandfather, but it went through his entire family as they gathered for functions with this day a priority. His uncle’s wife, N’Keiba Knox Estelle currently serves as a communication squadron commander in the Air Force.
“[Veterans Day] means a lot,” Knox said. “Military obviously is big in my family. I’ve had multiple people serve in the military and the Air Force. Some of my family has actually been in the war and been pretty much fighting. So it means a lot to go out there and play for them. I know they’re trying to save the world and pretty much help this country as much as possible. I should go out there and play hard because I know they’re working hard for me.
“Last maybe few years I’ve been gone a lot during Veterans Day, playing in college and high school and stuff like that. When I was in high school, we used to just go have a big dinner. My grandfather used to cook on the grill. It’s a big day for us, because of how many people we have in the military. We treat it as an important thing for us. We get together as a family, talk. It’s a big day for us, because of how many people served in the military from our family.”