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Stagg alum Max Strus had a long journey to the NBA Finals with Miami Heat

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Stagg High School alum Max Strus is trying to help the Miami Heat finish off their historic run with an NBA championship.

But while it was a tough Game 1 for Strus and the Heat at the Denver Nuggets got the win Thursday night, it was still a special night for the Strus family who've watched him fight through some tough times to become a starter in the NBA Finals.

The Hickory Hills native went undrafted out for DePaul University. He signed a free agent deal with the Boston Celtics, but was waived before the season.

Strus earned a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls but a torn ACL in 2019 derailed things with his hometown team.

Eventually, he latched on with the Heat and has become a key contributor.

His older brother Marty Strus, who coaches at Stagg, is proud of his younger brother's accomplishments.

"It's really been a community effort and that's kind of where I'm most proud because I feel like he left his mark on this place really well," Marty Strus said. "And if he didn't do it the right way here, I don't think it would have the same result now. It's pretty inspiring for our community as a whole, but definitely individually, he's just an awesome person to look up to."

The elder Strus brother said he hopes other local kids are following his little brother's story to learn how to respond to setbacks in life.

"He's got a ton of fans here and I hope he's building a ton more across the country as this thing keeps rolling on," Marty said.

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