Anselmino's heart bigger than body

| Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, 12:26 a.m.

I will never forget my first dealings regarding Brian Anselmino many, many years ago.

It was through his father, Larry.

I was the sports editor at the former Daily Herald newspaper in Monongahela and Larry Anselmino was a youth coach in New Eagle. Larry always made a point to tell me about his son, a youngster who played both youth basketball and baseball.

Larry Anselmino talked about his son like any proud father would. And I remember thinking there is no way this kid is as good as his father said he is. I thought Larry was just another pushy dad who was bragging up his son beyond expectations.

Then I watched Brian Anselmino play basketball and baseball and quickly realized two things: Not only was he a talented athlete, but an even better kid.

Brian Anselmino was a true talent, literally a man among boys because of his height that had him towering over most boys his age.

And as I covered Brian through high school at Ringgold and into college at Duquesne University, where he landed a basketball scholarship, I built a lasting friendship with him.

After all, there was nothing not to like about Brian Anselmino.

He was a great athlete, yet very humble — almost embarrassed by his athletic prowess. He had a huge, genuine smile that was contagious to anyone around him.

That grin is what I will always remember.

He did that a lot.

And over the years, I stayed close with Brian as he played in the Croatian Fraternal Union basketball tournaments for Monessen while my boys played on the Monessen CFU youth teams.

Over the years, we lost touch, but whenever Brian would be at a game I was covering, you could guarantee that he would come over to say hello and chat with me for a while and let me get caught up on what was going on in his life with his kids.

That's how Brian was.

Anyone who knew him had a dedicated friend for life.

That's part of what makes it so frustrating for those who were touched by him to know he is gone so suddenly, having died tragically in a vehicle accident Saturday.

Brian was just a good, caring person. He was probably one of the best people I have ever met in my life and I have met a lot of really good people.

The last time we talked, he was so proud of his family — pretty much like his father was of him so many years earlier.

It is ironic how he died, taking his son from a basketball event to his daughter's volleyball tournament.

Always being the doting father. Always running for his kids.

They just don't make people like Brian Anselmino the way they used to.

If that was so, the world would be a much better place.

Instead, Heaven is a better place today because he is walking around in it.

Looking back, Larry Anselmino was wrong about his young son. He wasn't a good player. He was a great person.

And gone all too soon.

Lord, I miss him.

Like so many others, I'm feeling an emptiness that won't dissipate for a long, long time.

That's how it is when the really good ones in your life are called home.

And Brian Anselmino was definitely one of the good ones.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or

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