Before every game, Spartan basketball guard Cassius Winston performs a small ritual on the court. It is a tribute to his late brother.

The star player, who lit up Michigan for a career high 32 points on Sunday, has been mourning the loss of his brother, Zachary, since his suicide in November.

Zachary was a starting guard for Division III Albion, just down the road from East Lansing.

In a moving piece in the New York Times, MSU coach Tom Izzo opens up about how difficult it has been for Winston and his teammates.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve gone through,” Izzo said, adding: “It has been way worse than I have let on.”

Izzo has been slow at times to chastise Winston for on-court mistakes, fearful that it might be too much for the player to handle. Sometimes, when the team is celebrating a win in the locker room, the mood changes when Winston enters because, as Izzo said, “You don’t feel good about feeling good.”

The article begins by describing, the small, moving gesture Cassius now performs before every Spartan game.

Just before tipoff, Winston greets his teammates at midcourt. Then he turns away, slaps his right hand toward the air in front of him, slides it near his left shoulder and leans forward, hopping into a shoulder bump.