The562’s coverage of Saints athletics is sponsored in part by St. Anthony High School.
Basketball royalty returned to Jack Errion Memorial Gym last Friday night, as St. Anthony legend Darrick Martin was back on campus for a jersey retirement ceremony prior to the team’s game against St. Paul.
Just prior to tip-off, Martin strolled onto the court that bears his name, bringing his nine-year-old son, Darrick, Jr., along with him. He was then presented a large frame containing a pair of white and purple jerseys with the No. 15 on the front–one with St. Anthony across the chest, and the other an official NBA jersey from his time with the Sacramento Kings.
“I’m so humbled, I still get chills walking into this place,” said Martin on his return to his old stomping grounds. “I wish I could put my uniform on and play right now. It’s just a huge blessing, and fortunately there’s good people here–(Former president) Gina Rushing, current president Christine Tucker, along with Chris Morrison the athletic director–they’ve been so good to me over the years. This is a very special night, and it was special for me too because I have my son here, so that’s really cool.”
Martin is one of just four boys’ basketball players in city history to be named a McDonald’s All-American, earning that honor in 1988 on his way to UCLA. He then went on to a lengthy pro career, which included 13 seasons in the NBA with six different teams.
“It was great to have him back here, even just to see the young team that we have because he’s an inspiration to those guys,” said St. Anthony athletic director Chris Morrison. “He comes back and talks to the team every chance he gets, so it’s always good having him here.”
Last Friday’s ceremony was actually a re-retirement of Martin’s No. 15, after his previous St. Anthony jersey was brought down from the rafters before last season. Fans may remember seeing his No. 15 play a prominent role on last year’s squad, and its inclusion on the roster was the result of a special moment between two generations of Saints basketball players.
Before the 2021-22 school year, senior point guard Jaayden Bush tragically lost his older brother, and wanted to honor his memory by wearing his old jersey number. But since No. 15 was retired, Morrison facilitated a meeting between Darrick, along with Jaayden and his mom, in order to discuss bringing it out of retirement.
“Darrick said he would be honored to let Jaayden wear No. 15,” Morrison recalled. “So the number was un-retired, and this was the re-retirement on Friday night. Before, we only had a small basketball jersey from when Darrick played here, and we really wanted to do it right this time because of what he did for Jaayden.”
Now when Saints fans look up above Darrick Martin Court, they’ll see two No. 15 jerseys. They both pay respect to one of the greatest hoopers to come out of Long Beach, and a cherished member of the St. Anthony Basketball community.
Martin said he will remain close to the program, and has already been back for multiple games this season. In just a few short years, it’ll be Darrick, Jr.’s time to try to leave his legacy as a high school basketball player–and he just might have an inside track on getting that No. 15 unretired once again.
“(My son) loves coming here, he's already kind of claimed this as his gym,” said Darrick, Sr. with a laugh. “Even when we walked in and it says my name on the court, he said ‘Dad, that's my name, too.’ So we have a lot of fun with it and I really enjoy coming back here. This is where I got my start in my basketball career, and I tell everybody that if I wouldn't have had my foundation here, I would have never gotten my 13 years in the NBA.”