Entertaining, remarkable and affectionate: that is Anthony Strickland in the eyes of his older sister, Antonice.
Anthony Strickland did not start playing organized basketball until the sixth grade, but growing up, the game was all around him.
“My dad used to play and all I really knew growing up was basketball,” Strickland said. “Going to his games, that’s all I really knew because that’s what he did.”
“We went to all of our dad’s games. We would bring our crayons and our paper and pretend we were reporting the game,” Antonice, who now wants to be a reporter, said.
Anthony is a product of Ypsilanti, Michigan. He spent his freshman-junior years of high school at Willow Run High School before moving to Inkster, where he would attend Dearborn Heights Robichaud High School.
Antonice remembers that year as the first time the two of them were ever apart. She was in her first year at Michigan State University, and Anthony was spending his final year of high school in a brand-new environment. Instinctively, Antonice worried about her brother and how he would adapt, however he went on to graduate in 2009.
“I remember [Antonice] coming home for my graduation,” Strickland said. “She came home from school and took me out. We talked the whole weekend. She kept telling me she was proud of me and just made sure I went to college.”
“I was so happy and proud to see him excited to graduate,” Antonice said. “He didn’t get into trouble and he made great
friends there. I think I shed a tear seeing him graduate; I was so proud that he was able to accomplish his whole senior year and be able to graduate, and he was so excited about it.”
It was off to Adrian College for Anthony. While there he played in 18 games, five of which were starts. He averaged 2.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
After a year at Adrian, Anthony decided to move back Ypsilanti and made EMU his choice for continuing his education. Since transferring to Eastern, Anthony says his greatest improvement has been in his focus both academically and on the court. One of the people who has helped him in his growth at EMU is assistant coach Benny White.
“He shares his wisdom with me,” Strickland said. “When I’m doing bad he tells me, when I’m doing well he tells me. He just talks to me when he knows I need it.”
If there were one unique aspect of this Eagle squad Strickland had to pick out as his favorite, it would be the heart of the team that drives its will to fight.
“I like the fight in our team,” Strickland said. “It seems like no matter what happens we don’t give up.”
And that very quality just might be a highlight of Anthony’s own personality.
Growing up, Anthony and Antonice were always very close. They are only a year apart and were the only two children in the family. They even shared a room for some time.
Antonice can remember the nights when the two of them didn’t want to go to sleep so they would stay up singing Michael Jackson songs. “The Girl is Mine” was one of their favorites, but “Rockin’ Robin” was the one they decided to record one day with a tape recorder.
The two of them sang in the choir for Christmas programs at church, each of them having a number of solos.
“We both were in the choir and we both had solos together,” Antonice said. “Anthony definitely used to be a singer.”
Being the oldest, Antonice was naturally protective of her brother. But the fact that Anthony didn’t have a brother gave her protectiveness its edge. She can remember plenty of times when they fought together.
“When we were little we were always around the same height and I wasn’t going to let other people beat up on my little brother,” Antonice said.
Then, in 2004, Anthony and Antonice went through one of the most tragic events of both of their lives, one that brought them even closer than before. That March, their mother died in a car accident.
“Me and Anthony were always close, but I think it brought a different closeness to us because we had to be a little closer than before,” Antonice said. “It was really hard and I know it affected him and I differently. He’s more of a Momma’s boy and there’d be times when we were younger when he would just lay on me because he was such a baby, and it was something he used to do with our mom.”
For Antonice, the loss of their mother provides a special kind of motivation to be the best she can be, and it’s that same kind of drive that she believes keeps Anthony going. She remembers their father saying that him and their mother had devised a plan, a plan that would see their children through college.
“That whole situation changed all of our lives,” Antonice said. “I think it makes him work very hard. Just to make sure that we accomplish what both of our parents expected for us. They made sure we were on our game so we can’t mess that up, it would be a waste of their time.”
For Anthony, having his sister around gives him the guidance and motivation he needs.
“She has impacted my life in a major way as far as being motivated and being my example of how to do the right things,” Anthony said. “Ever since we were little kids she’s always looked out for me and motivated me on and off the court.”
To this day, the two remain very close.
“I always know that I can call Anthony if I just to vent or talk about something or if I need advice with something,” Antonice said. “He’s the youngest one but he helps me more than he probably knows.”
Anthony is currently seeking out a degree in Secondary Education with his focus in History. Upon graduating, he will follow
basketball as far as he can, before using teaching as his outlet to give back to the community and have a positive influence on its youth.
So far this season the six-foot-five redshirt sophomore guard/forward has played in all of the team’s games and has started in the last eight match-ups. He averages 2.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He scored a season-high 11 points on Dec. 1 against Colgate while also hauling down a season-high eight rebounds. He is a 66.7 percent free-throw shooter with 10 steals and four blocks on the season.
“I love my brother dearly,” Antonice said. “He is my best friend and sometimes he’s like a child that I don’t have. He’s amazing. He means a lot to me so I have no choice but to make sure he’s taken care of. I respect Anthony a lot. He’s helped me way more than he could know. I really love him.”