PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — You may have seen the video of Multnomah University’s Justin Martin dropping an NAIA record 74 points earlier this month. But he wasn’t playing for the video views; he was playing for the one person who couldn’t be in the stands anymore.
“A lot of kids tell me, ‘Hey coach, I’m in the gym all the time, six hours a day,'” said Coach Curt Bickley. “But Justin really is in the gym that much.”
For Justin, it’s a place he finds solace.
“It’s just kind of an escape for me, just kind of get in the gym, hang out with friends,” said Justin. “Kind of like a release almost.”
He spends hours in the gym almost every day, and he has since he was 13 years old, when tragedy drove him to the place he could make sense of things.
“When I was 13, I lost my brother,” said Justin. “So that was kind of a big part of my life: just get in the gym, just kind of escape from everything.”
Josh Martin was six years older than Justin when he took his own life at the age of 19. The two brothers had always been close. Josh had pushed his little brother to be his best.
“Whenever I didn’t want to go to the gym, he’d grab me, throw me in the car, drive me to the gym, and go shoot,” said Justin. “I wake up every day and think about him, you know what I mean. He gets me to the gym when I don’t want to get in the gym—just kind of living through him.”
All those hours in the gym have made Justin one of the best three-point shooters in NAIA. During his record-setting 74-point game, he drained 15 three-pointers from a distance. It was a moment his brother would have loved.
“I wish he was here to see some of these games,” said Justin. “Yeah, he’d be going crazy. He’d be my number one supporter.”
His dad was in the stands for that game, while his mom was cheering from home. Despite the pain of their loss, the Martin family has experienced much joy as well in the years since Josh left them. For Justin, bringing and experiencing that joy is bigger than any record ever could be.
“It’s awesome, you know, just seeing my dad smile after all he’s been through with the family, and seeing him cry, and that I could give that to him is pretty special,” said Justin.
He hopes to play overseas after his final season at Multnomah University. Wherever he goes, he knows his number one fan will always be getting him to the gym.
“I always feel like I’ve got to make him proud,” said Justin.