Sixers' Justin Anderson Has Several Ties With Eagles Players

Justin Anderson has to make room in his closet. Looks like he has some Eagles gear coming his way.

Anderson was traded to the Sixers in February and already has three connections to the city's NFL team.

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From a childhood friend so close he's considered family, to two fellow Virginia alumi, Anderson has plenty of reasons to wear green.

Anderson looked up to Torrey Smith, four years his senior, when they grew up 15 minutes apart in Virginia. Their mothers had a longstanding friendship and Anderson often attended Smith's games.

"Torrey Smith is like a cousin to me," Anderson said. "He's a small town guy that made it to the pros, which is huge for our town and our city."

Anderson is no stranger to football. His first cousin Jermon Bushrod plays for the Dolphins. Bushrod babysat Anderson during the summers of his youth and Anderson got an early look at the emerging talent in the area.

Anderson saw what professional athletes like Smith and Bushrod meant to their local area. Now he looks forward to joining them in similar outreach.

"They would do things like charity basketball games that everyone would show up to," Anderson said. "I always told myself I can't wait until I make it to the NBA so I can do what these guys are doing for the community."

Once Anderson got to college at Virginia, he met Rodney McLeod. They overlapped one year; Anderson was a freshman when McLeod was a senior. 

"Him and girlfriend were like 'couple goals' in college," Anderson said. "Everybody saw Rodney and you always saw her with him. If there was a prom king and queen, they would have won it."

Anderson found it easy to click with McLeod's outgoing personality. They remained friends as both established pro careers. McLeod reached out to Anderson when he was traded from Dallas to Philadelphia.

"He hit me up and said, 'Welcome to the city,'" Anderson said. "He's actually the guy that got me in contact with my barber. He said if I need help with apartments and stuff, I was good."

A week ago, it was Anderson's turn to send a welcome message. Chris Long, another former Virginia football player, joined the Eagles in March.

"Chris would always come back and watch our games and talk to us and encourage us," Anderson said. "I got to know him closer, going to dinner with him and stuff when I was in college. When we were winning he would tweet at us, talk to him on FaceTime."

Now that Anderson is in the NBA, he can take Long up on a long-standing offer.

"He'd tell us if we needed anything like jerseys or anything, let him know," Anderson said. "Obviously, we couldn't get anything because when we were in college, but now, like I said on Twitter, I'm going to have a nice Philly wardrobe."

Anderson estimates he's spent a total of two weeks in Philadelphia since being traded given the Sixers' heavy travel schedule. When he finally is in town the same time as his friends, though, he is excited to catch up as pro athletes in the same city.

"It's cool I know them and I just got to Philly and now they're all coming to Philly," he said.

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