I’ve been in L.A. now for a long period of time and before that, I lived in New York City for a few years as well. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to the Oscars, The Golden Globes and other award shows several times and while I feel blessed and recognize that it is ridiculous life, at this point none of it truly impresses me too much. In the same way that if you are a lawyer, you get tired of seeing other lawyers, or if you are a cab driver, you don’t want to hang out all the time with other cabbies, being an actor kinda takes the allure off of seeing other actors. Why be so impressed, as I can do that.
However, when I was invited to attend The ESPYs last night I could hardly contain my giddy inner child. The one group of people that can still leave me star struck are athletes. I definitely cannot do that. From my youngest memories, all I ever wanted to do is to be able to perform like they do. Their god given physical talent amazes me and my inability to replicate their feats means that when confronted with them, I am instantly transformed into my nine year old self, standing at Turfland Mall, hoping to get Melvin Turpin’s autograph.
The reality is athletes still freak me out. So imagine my excitement when (by reading KSR yesterday) I learned that Boogie and John Wall were going to be at the Espy’s. Awesome. I knew I had to prepare. So the night before, I laid out my suit. Ballers go big and if I am going to be on their level, I have to look the part, plu who knows, Jay Z may be there. So of course I go with my Tom Ford (see KSR’s own Kristen Geil and Magna Carta).
I get to the show and long story short, it was great. My impressions were a lot like yours would have been as I saw all these elite guys from television close up. Lebron is unbelievably huge in person. Johnny Football unbelievably, isn’t. The Louisville guys Peyton Siva, Russ Smith and Chane Behanan sat almost directly in front of me. I chatted a bit with Siva in the stairway and realized that he was a super nice kid. It was disappointing, but the truth is the truth. You would probably like him too.
My favorite part of the night was when I was walking into the After party (where the real stuff goes down) and started scoping out the people in attendance. I hadn’t taken a picture with anyone yet and in the corner I saw Jadeveon Clowney knew I had to have a picture with this beast. Yes, I know he is in college and yes I shouldn’t be geeking out, but did you see that hit against Michigan? How could I not say hello. So I pulled the usual move, stopping near where he was, looking down at my phone (so as to seem not to care) and ready to pounce at the perfect opportunity, when I got a tap on the shoulder. I looked up and this hulk of man is standing over me barking, “hey, are you on Cougar Town?” It was JaDaveon Clowney. My night was made.
After texting all of my friends to reveal my excitement (“Guess what, Clowney knows who I am…and he likes the show…and he didn’t ask only about Courtney!”), I see our UK guys hanging on the other side of the room. Now neither Wall or Cousins knows who I am but one of Demarcus’s friends is from Lexington and he tells Boogie of my Lexington connection. Demarcus was very cool in taking a minute to snap a pic and briefly chat. Wall seemed to sort of recognize me but not really as the guy on Cougar Town. His eyes had more of a “haven’t you stalked me for pictures several times in the last few years?” He would be correct, but fortunately for me he was still pleasant and posed for yet another picture. To be fair these guys have always been nice and if I could keep my composure a bit, I could probably stand with them and have a nice little chat. But I can’t keep my composure, I know I’ll say something stupid like, remember when you dunked and then said ‘call me’? That was friggin awesome!” So I do the wise move and peel off. It is just best for everyone. Now don’t be mistaken. I did spend much of the rest of the night staking from a safe distance, but I kept my space and all were better for it.
Before I leave the party (and head to the after-after party) a girl stops me to get my picture and I say of course. However you can tell by their faces that she and her group just sort of recognize me but dont really know from what (an expression I am used to by the way and one I call the “I will get his picture and then ask my mom who he is.”). But this time, the girl’s husband asks my name after the picture and then asks if I recognize his wife. I say I’m not sure and he says, “did you watch the Olympics?” and I say yes and he says, “do you like volleyball?” And I looked at his wife and said, “You’re Destinee Hooker! Wow, you have crazy Hops!” We all laughed and her husband gave an answer that I have never been able to use, saying, “yep, 43 inches!” In short, the pregnant lady you see in this picture above could dunk a basketball today if she had to. I was very impressed.
As for the night as a whole, I saw a lot of great athletes and it reminded me how strange it is to be in the midst of them at one time. The Kentucky guys were great to see, and I even got a picture with one of my favorites, Randall Cobb…a guy who is as nice and genuine as I am sure you imagine him to be. It was a great chance for me to be a fan and to channel my 7th grade Josh Hopkins. The same guy who used to stand outside and hope that Rex Chapman would notice me and maybe ask me to hang out, now does the same, only twenty years older. It was great to meet all of these phenomenal athletes (and not bad to meet Katherine Webb either) and was extremely exciting. The only thing better will be when we run through this season coming up and bring home #9.
See you along the way.