Archdeacon: No better medicine for ‘team mom’

Trey Landers' mom, Tracy Matthews, poses for a photo with Obi Toppin, right, and Jalen Crutcher, left, at The Basketball Tournament on Sunday, July 24, 2022, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Combined ShapeCaption
Trey Landers' mom, Tracy Matthews, poses for a photo with Obi Toppin, right, and Jalen Crutcher, left, at The Basketball Tournament on Sunday, July 24, 2022, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Regardless of all the doctors’ visits, the treatments, the pills and the rests, there was no better medicine for Tracy Matthews than moments like the one with 4:33 left in the first quarter of Sunday’s game at UD Arena.

The Red Scare – a team made up mostly of former Dayton Flyers plyers including her son, Trey Landers – was playing the Cititeam in a first round game of the winner-take-all $1 million The Basketball Tournament.

With his team down by three, Landers hit a three-point shot that tied the game and brought the mostly red-clad crowd to its feet.

And the fans – all cheering for the hometown guys -- were rewarded. The Red Scare won, 75-70.

And no one was cheering louder than Matthews, who was decked out in Flyers’ garb and smiling like she hasn’t been able to many times in the past few months.

»»PHOTOS: Red Scare advance in TBT

For the past four months – in an occurrence of a still-not-pinpointed affliction that affected her last year, too – she has been dealing with severe stomach issues.

“It’s some kind of stomach infection and they’re trying to figure out exactly what it is,” Landers said.

“It’s been really hard for her to keep food down and for a while she couldn’t really eat at all. She’s lost weight and just not been the same.

“She was always on the move, but this really has hit her hard. She hasn’t been able to work or do a lot of other things.”

Landers, who played for the Cleveland Charge in the NBA G-League earlier this year, decided to forgo a return to pro ball in Europe this summer and came back home a few months ago to care for his mom.

“I’m glad to do it after all she did for us,” Landers said. “She’s been our core for a long time.”

Some 15 ½ years ago, Lander’s 30-year-old father – Robert Landers Sr. – was gunned down in front of a Salem Avenue muffler shop. Police said they believed Landers, who was shot multiple times, was targeted.

The assailant wasn’t caught and for the family’s safety, Matthews and her young boys (Robert was 10, Trey was 8 and Tallice was almost 5) were advised not to attend the funeral. They didn’t. And no one has ever been charged in the crime.

Although their situation was tough sometimes after that, Matthews did everything in her power to keep her family intact, thriving and her sons always knowing they were loved.

She worked two, sometimes three jobs at a time.

When she was a travelling nurse – taking jobs as far away as New York – she made sure the boys could fend on their own. She taught them to cook, clean, wash their clothes and take care of each other.

Combined ShapeCaption
Trey Landers, of the Red Scare, watches the first game of the day in The Basketball Tournament on Sunday, July 24, 2022, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Trey Landers, of the Red Scare, watches the first game of the day in The Basketball Tournament on Sunday, July 24, 2022, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Combined ShapeCaption
Trey Landers, of the Red Scare, watches the first game of the day in The Basketball Tournament on Sunday, July 24, 2022, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

The boys did a good job.

Each starred at Wayne High School. Robert, the oldest, then became a stalwart of the Ohio State defensive line.

Trey became a leader of the Dayton Flyers basketball team and since then has played professionally in Europe, spending the 2020 season with Ratiopharm Ulm in the top German league and then last year with Kataja, a top tier team in Finland.

After being cut by the Philadelphia 76ers G-League team – the Delaware Blue Coats – he was called by the Charge and spent the past season coming off the bench for them.

Youngest son Tallice will play at Cuyahoga Community College in the coming season.

“We called her our thoroughbred thug,” a grinning Robert once told me. “She cracked the whip…and gave us love.”

She was the boys’ bread winner, their security blanket and their unabashed cheerleader.

No matter where her work took her, she always seemed to be back in time to attend their games.

When Trey was with the Flyers, she came to UD Arena 90 minutes early and would end up courtside to make sure the other players – “the ones from far away who might not have anyone at the game,” she told me – were OK.

Combined ShapeCaption
The Red Scare's Trey Landers celebrates a basket against CitiTeam in the first round of The Basketball Tournament on Sunday, July 24, 2022, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

The Red Scare's Trey Landers celebrates a basket against CitiTeam in the first round of The Basketball Tournament on Sunday, July 24, 2022, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Combined ShapeCaption
The Red Scare's Trey Landers celebrates a basket against CitiTeam in the first round of The Basketball Tournament on Sunday, July 24, 2022, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

They called her the “team mom.”

But her best work always was with her own three sons.

“With our dad gone, she took care of all three of us,” Trey said. “She turned boys into men.

Robert is now playing for the Arizona Rattlers, who are the No. 1 seed in the Indoor Football League playoffs.

Tallice is training in Atlanta this summer before he heads to college.

Except for the time he’s spent with his daughter in Florida and this brief foray with the Red Scare, Trey has spent the summer taking care of his mom.

“He’s done everything for me,” Matthews said. “He makes sure the house is straight. He cooks, goes to the grocery store, goes with me for my doctor appointments.”

She said she’s been feeling a little better, but she’s still waiting to get some test results back.

Even so, she said she never thought of skipping the Red Scare’s debut.

“I’ll be there with bells and whistles on,” she promised Saturday.

That wasn’t an exaggeration.

Sitting eight rows up from the court, Sunday she was a favorite of the fans, including former Flyers greats Obi Toppin, now with the New York Knicks, and Jalen Crutcher, now with the G-League’s Greensboto Swarm, who sought her out for courtside photos.

Trey said he was glad to be back playing in the Arena for the first time since he was, in coach Anthony Grant’s words, ‘the glue” of the 29-2 team three years ago that was led by Toppin and Crutcher.

“It’s a surreal feeling just coming down the ramp,” he said. “It’s a great to be able to play with the guys again and I’m really excited to see the fans.”

And there was no fan he looked for more than the woman who stood and cheered his every move Sunday.

She was his mom.

He was her medicine.

About the Author