The holiday season can be a rough time for rookies playing far from home for the first time. Even after several months away, being in different places where one's traditional customs may not be observed can cause young players to get a bit homesick.
Fiat Turin rookie Tony Carr doesn't have that problem. His parents, Anthony and Nicole, and younger brother Derek are all with him in northern Italy him – as they have been all season.
"Every day is just amazing to be living in a place like this."
Stories like Carr's don't come around very often at all. Of course, if a young player is married or in a serious relationship, his partner might join him in a new country – along with a child if there is one. But for parents and a sibling to make the move with a player all the way from the United States to Europe is unique.
For the 21-year-old Carr, playing his first pro season anywhere, their presence is a blessing.
"It's been great having them around for this whole process and I am just thankful to have them with me," he said. "Family is the most important thing to me in life, and just to be able to come home from practice and know that my family is here and knowing that my little brother is there after he goes to school just opens a lot of different doors and a lot of different opportunities for my family."
Carr has a number of American teammates in Turin, including three who are 27 years or older. And their message to the 1.96-meter shooting guard is clear: "Man, you are lucky."
"They all say that I am lucky to have my family with me. This is my first year here, so I don't know what goes on over here. But I think it's pretty rare to have your family come over with you. I am just blessed to share this time with them," Carr said.
When asked if his teammates wanted to come over to his place to get some of his mother's cooking, Carr laughed. "Yeah, a couple of times a few teammates came over," he said. "But nothing crazy."
Also nothing crazy, Carr said, was getting used to the lifestyle in Turin after growing up in Philadelphia. "It was not really a culture shock because my family is here," he said. "It's definitely a change of scenery. I love where I come from. I love the city of Philadelphia, but this is definitely much more peaceful and just a different way of living here in Italy."
Carr said he has enjoyed talking walks around the city center of Turin and is just struck by the fact that he is in Italy. "I just enjoy driving around and think like, wow, I live in Italy… Just driving to practice or driving around town with my family, we just look around and every day you see something new. Every day is just amazing to be living in a place like this. And just knowing where I came from."
"To have them sacrifice their lives to be here with me means everything."
Carr, who is averaging 13.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals this season in eight EuroCup games, said he is not learning to speak Italian yet, but is instead solely focused on basketball. The Italian spoken at home is from the mouth of his 11-year-old brother Derek.
"My brother goes to school and he comes home speaking Italian words," Carr said. "My mother and father have been doing a lot of sightseeing, just going around town and getting adjusted to living in Italy and taking full advantage of it."
One thing that hasn't changed from his time at college was that when he looks up in the stands during home games, there is his family rooting him on.
"It's a feeling that's hard to describe," Carr said. "Just to be able to look up in the stands and see my family, it just speaks of their support and how important they are for my development and my success.
"Family is very high on my list of priorities, and I hold them very near and dear to me, so to have them sacrifice their lives to be here with me means everything."