How good of a week was it for Tyler Marsh? Good enough that being part of winning a professional basketball title was not nearly the most exciting thing that happened to the former UAB and Birmingham-Southern basketball player.
On September 18, Marsh, an assistant coach and head of player development for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, was on the bench as the Aces clinched a world championship with a 78-71 win on the road against the Connecticut Sun. Two days later, he was part of a celebration honoring the first professional franchise champion in Las Vegas. The next day, September 21, he was with his wife, Kiara, as she gave birth to the couple’s first child, Jaxxon Cade Marsh.
By any type of measurement, that’s a great week.
“It was an amazing few days, for sure,” Marsh said. “It’s kind of a weird feeling, your mind is in two different places at once. You’re (in Connecticut) helping your team and staff and organization with what we’re playing for. At the same time, I had a wife at home (in Las Vegas), hoping she was okay.”
And now that I’ve finally stopped crying. Just when I didn’t think the wins could get any bigger. 36hrs later, the greatest win of them all. Jaxxon Cade Marsh (BIG CHAMP). 🙏🏾💙 #onlyGod @IamlowKEYagain pic.twitter.com/OgaYTJJEgG— Tyler Marsh (@hoop4thought) September 21, 2022
Professionally, it was another step in a young basketball career that has already included championship rings in his first season in the NBA G-League, NBA and WNBA. Each of those rings came in his first year at that particular level.
The 34-year-old Marsh was born into basketball. His father, Donnie, is a longtime college basketball coach, who was on Mike Davis’ staff at Indiana, UAB, Texas Southern and now Detroit Mercy, and his head coaching stops include Florida International University and Alabama A&M. Tyler Marsh played at UAB when his father was on the staff and finished his career at Birmingham-Southern College.
It wasn’t necessarily his original plan, but Tyler followed his father into coaching.
“Originally, I wanted to go into the front office,” Marsh said. “I always loved the idea of being part of building a team. I thought that was the area I was going to go down. My dad tried everything in the book to try to dissuade me from going into coaching. But, the two things I really value are basketball and people. I think coaching blends both of those, both of my passions, into one. I think I’ve been just kind of riding the wave since then, since my first year in coaching back in 2012. Ten years later, I’ve been able to coach at the NBA level, the WNBA level, the high school level, college level and the G-League level. It’s been a lot of experiences in a relatively short amount of time.”
His first coaching stop came at Texas Southern, where Davis went after being fired at UAB. Donnie Marsh joined Davis in Houston and Tyler was slated to be a graduate assistant. About a month into the job, he attended a Houston Rockets workout. While there, he asked around about some internships he had applied for and didn’t receive. Not long after, he went back to help work out some players during another tryout. During that tryout, he was offered an NBA G-League player development position with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The offer came from head coach Nick Nurse. He accepted the spot and was part of a team that won the championship that season.
Marsh had stops with three other G-League franchises and served for a year under his father at Alabama A&M. In 2016, Nurse, who was then the head coach for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, offered him a job as an assistant video coordinator on a team that won the NBA Championship that season. The next year, he added player development to his duties. He then moved on to the Indiana Pacers for two seasons as an assistant coach.
As with most coaches, changing jobs is part of the process.
“It’s really how my life has been, honestly, since my dad has been coaching and growing up around that aspect,” Marsh said. “You just never know what the next opportunity is going to bring. It’s not that you go to a spot thinking about when you’re going to get out or looking to the next move. That would take away from the experience of where you’re at. The way my thought process has gone through any job change has been I just want to be purposeful.”
While at Indiana, he met Becky Hammon, who at the time was an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. They struck up a friendship. Hammon reached out to Marsh when she was hired as the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces.
“It was a great opportunity for me, career wise, and personally as well,” Marsh said. “We hit it off from the very jump. We were on common ground in what we valued, both on and off the court, and we just clicked from there. It ended up kind of a match made in heaven, so to speak.”
He was an integral part of a tremendous season. The Aces finished the regular season tied with the Chicago Sky with the league’s best record at 26-10. The Aces entered the playoff as the No. 1 seed and won eight of 10 postseason games. When it was over, they were hoisting the trophy.
“It’s a culmination for all the work you put in,” Marsh outlined. “You really can’t take it for granted, because you understand the amount of people who have been around the league, a lot longer than you have, that haven’t been able to experience that. Not everyone is fortunate to be around championship teams and championship staffs. I’ve just been extremely blessed to be around some great coaches and great players. The feeling that comes from that, after all the work that’s put in, it’s a constant grind no matter what, is indescribable, for sure. None better feeling than having a kid, though.”
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