NBA star RJ Barrett speaks out for the first time since his younger brother’s death at the age of 19, admitting ‘this one hit a little harder’ and he’s still trying ‘to figure it out’

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • RJ Barrett has spoken out for the first time since his brother’s shock death at 19
  • Raptors star admits ‘this one hit a little harder’ and he’s still trying ‘to figure it out’
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news 

RJ Barrett has spoken out for the first time since his brother’s shock death at the age of 19, admitting he’s still trying to ‘figure it out.’

Nathan, four years RJ’s junior, died earlier this month. He had ‘fallen ill and been at home for several weeks’ before his shock death, it later emerged.

No cause of death has yet been revealed for the teenager, who was training to be a pilot alongside his amateur basketball career. 

Barrett – who was traded to the Toronto Raptors from the New York Knicks in December – has not played since March 11. However, it’s expected he will return against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. 

He rejoined the Raptors on Friday for the first time since the tragedy and spoke to reporters about how he’s still coming to terms with the loss.

RJ Barrett has spoken out for the first time since his brother’s shock death at the age of 19

Nathan Barrett (R, pictured alongside his NBA star brother RJ) was ill weeks before his death

Nathan Barrett (R, pictured alongside his NBA star brother RJ) was ill weeks before his death 

‘I’ve had some people in my life, but this one hit a little harder for me,’ Barrett said.

‘This one is definitely a little different, it’s a lot tougher, and I just think that you’ve gotta push forward every day, gotta be able to try to figure it out.’

‘If I know my brother, he would want me to be here, to be playing, to try to continue to make the Barrett legacy grow.’

News of Nathan’s death first broke onlinewhen his former youth coach Chris Stewart paid an emotional tribute.

Stewart coached both RJ and Nathan Barrett in the Mississauga Monarchs in their native Canada.

‘On March 12, my extended Monarch’s family lost another member, Nathan Barrett,’ Stewart wrote on Instagram.

Barrett has not played since March 11 but is expected to return against the 76ers on Sunday

Barrett has not played since March 11 but is expected to return against the 76ers on Sunday

‘It’s hard to believe this is the second time this has happened to my family and basketball community. 

‘Nathan was only with us for a short time in Grade 7 before he moved to Florida, but whenever he was back in Mississauga, the boys connected.

‘I saw Nathan last summer, all grown up, a big smile and he was excited telling me how he was starting school to become a pilot. I always tell my former players if you were on my team even one season, you will always be my family and don’t forget it. 

‘If you have had the pleasure of knowing this family you know how much they do for the basketball community so keep them in your thoughts and prayers. No parent should ever have to bury a child, hug your kids today a little longer. You will be missed Nathan, RIP.’

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