Saturday, March 31, 2012

Final Four 2012 | Peyton Siva's maturity on floor honed at early age 12:13 PM, Mar. 31, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — Peyton Siva jokes that his father has gotten more air time than he has during Louisville’s run to the Final Four.

Far from being resentful, it gives Siva a thrill every time he catches a glimpse of the “300-pound Samoan guy” wearing his jersey.

“To see him in the stands is really great, because I know he’s not out somewhere else,” the younger Siva said. “It’s a good feeling to have him at your games and see that he’s doing well right now.”

Fourth-seeded Louisville (30-9) faces top-seeded Kentucky (36-2) in the Final Four on Saturday night in large part because of Siva and his steadiness, a maturity he came by the hard way.

Siva’s father, Peyton Sr., led a troubled life when his son was younger. Struggling with a toxic mix of drugs, alcohol and depression, the elder Siva was an on-and-off presence. When he was gone, the family had to fend for itself. When he was around, there was no guarantee the kind of shape he’d be in.

It was a confusing time for Siva, who was too young to understand the battles his father was waging.

“It was tough,” the younger Siva said Friday. “But it helped make me the person I am.”

And the son helped make the father the person he now is.

When Siva was 13, his father became so despondent he considered committing suicide. Even got himself a gun.

Despite being three years too young for a driver’s license, the younger Siva borrowed a car and went looking for his father. When he found him, Siva begged his dad not to end his life, to be a regular part of Siva’s instead.

“When I sit back and think about that, how blessed I’ve been to have such a wonderful kid in my life,” the elder Siva said, breaking down in tears.

The episode was a turning point for Siva Sr. He cleaned up his life, getting sober and becoming an active presence in his son’s life.

When Siva led the Cardinals to the Big East tournament title, averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and earning most outstanding player honors, his father was in the stands to see it.

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