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NBA veteran Tony Snell has not played in an NBA game since the 2021-22 season, when he appeared in 53 games for the Portland Trail Blazers and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Snell is playing for the Maine Celtics, Boston’s G League affiliate, for the second straight season.
Tony Snell (21) of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles past Xavier Moon (15) of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Crypto.com Arena April 3, 2022, in Los Angeles. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
The 2013 first-round draft pick is looking to return to the NBA because it’s the top of his profession. But he has another reason.
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“Of course, I want to come back and play, but I have a bigger purpose now,” Snell told Yahoo Sports. “It’s not about me anymore. It’s about my boys.”
Snell needs to be signed to an NBA active roster by Friday and be signed for the remainder of the season to get a 10th year of service. If Snell can get a 10th year of service, he would be eligible for the Players Association Union’s premium medical plan when he retires, according to Yahoo Sports.
The premium medical plan would cover his entire family, including his two sons, who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
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“It’s something I truly need,” Snell said. “Not only for myself, but for my wife and my kids.”
Tony Snell of the Maine Celtics shoots a free throw against the Cleveland Charge Feb. 11, 2023, at Portland Expo Center in Portland, Maine. (China Wong/NBAE via Getty Images)
Snell’s son Karter, 2, was diagnosed with autism, which led Snell to discover at 31 years old that he too is autistic.
“I’m like, ‘You know what, if he’s diagnosed [with autism], then I think I am [on the autism spectrum] too.’ So, that gave me the courage to go get checked up,” Snell told “Today” in June.
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Snell told “Today” his diagnosis came as a bit of a “relief.”
“I was not surprised because I always felt different. It was just relief, like, ‘Oh, this why I am the way I am,’” he said.
“It made my whole life, like everything about my life made so much sense. It was like clarity, like putting some 3D glasses on,” he said.
Snell has taken on a mentor role with his G League teammates, often playing with teammates who are 10 years younger.
“I want to share my knowledge with the young guys. I have enjoyment from helping them out and showing them what I see,” Snell said. “I’m at the stage where I want to inspire people and help as many people as I possibly can.”
Tony Snell of the Maine Celtics poses for a portrait during 2023-24 G League Media Day Oct. 30, 2023, at Portland Expo Center in Portland, Maine. (China Wong/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Snell told “Today” in June that he has made it his mission to be a role model for his son and others, partnering with the Special Olympics.
“Just want to change some lives and inspire people,” Snell said. “I want to make sure my son knows that I have his back. When I was a kid, I felt different. But now I can show him that I’m right here with you. We’re going to ride this thing together, we’re going to grow together and we’re going to accomplish a lot of things together.”
Snell has averaged 6.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in his NBA career.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report