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Canadian Raptors Brissett, happy to be back after making most of time off

The NBA shutdown provided a silver lining for new dad Oshae Brissett.

The 22-year-old from Toronto might have been in the thick of another long Raptors playoff run had COVID-19 not shut down sports around the world in mid-March. Instead, he was home to support his pregnant partner Ieesha Callum, there for the birth of their daughter Ellai Aria on May 28, and has watched her grow in the weeks since.

“Especially at that time [in May], we would have been deep in the playoffs or somewhere on the road, so it’s a blessing in disguise,” Brissett said. “I was able to spend some good time with her and be with her, and kind of learn the beginning stages of her life. So it’s great.”

Boarding the Raptors’ flight to Florida two weeks ago wasn’t so great.

While Brissett is happy to be back on the basketball court, the Raptors could be centralized in Florida — one of the world’s hotspots for the novel coronavirus — for the next three months, with no chance of seeing family until the second round of the playoffs tip off on Sept. 1.

“I knew that the opportunity that we had to get back here together as a team, I was going to jump on it right away, no matter what the circumstances were,” Brissett said. “Obviously it’s tough leaving my daughter, but FaceTime and all those things that are available now, I call her all the time and I’m on the phone with her, just talking to her.

“It wasn’t a tough decision to leave, but getting on that plane and saying bye, that was the toughest part.”

Brissett, a guard/forward, said Callum has plenty of help with the baby.

“Jamaican families are large,” he said with a laugh on a Zoom call with reporters Monday. “She has a whole bunch of support, for sure. That’s why I’m not really worried, I know that she’s going to be loved and taken care of the same way she would even I was there.” Florida recorded an all-time high of 11,400 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, and has seen its positive test rate over the past two weeks reach more than 18 per cent. Seven NBA teams have had to temporarily shut down training facilities due to coronavirus cases, most recently the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Raptors are programmed to travel to Orlando on Thursday, where they’ll join 21 other clubs in the league’s quasi-bubble at Disney World.

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