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The Spectrum of Life in Rupp Arena

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After the last 24 hours, one thing is certain. When the roll is called up yonder, not only will I be there, but I will remember February 13, 2010. Over the course of one twelve-hour period, I experienced the highest of high and the lowest of lows, and all took place in one building that we all hold in such reverence in the Big Blue Nation. The morning began with a set of experiences that when I was a child watching every UK game and cheering with each “String Music in Lexington” by Joe Dean, I would have never believed would ever come my way. Thanks to the folks at Kentucky, we were able to tape our KSR podcast on the floor of Rupp Arena right after Gameday and experience the crazy atmosphere of the day right from courtside. When you listen to the podcast come up tonight, my guess is that you will hear the giddiness in my voice, as we interviewed Jay Bilas, Dr. Lee Todd, Howie Schwaub, Jenn Brown and others, while sitting in the same hallowed seats previously occupied by Cawood Ledford an Tom Leach. We spoke off the air with Jodie Meeks, Chuck Hayes, etc and I got to watch as one of my favorite people, Lukask Obrzut, experienced again the sound of 22,000 people yelling “Woooo”, giving him the greatest smile one will ever see. It was one of those “pinch me” moments that I never would have dreamed possible as a child, when Kentucky basketball was the beginning and end of my life’s concerns.

And then came a few hours later. After an afternoon break with the KSR crew, I came back into Rupp Arena to get ready for what was going to be a top-notch UK atmosphere against my hated Vols. Then a text came from my mother that took the night from one extreme to the other. My mom asked me to call me from some place where I could talk. There are no such places in Rupp Arena, so I went to the one place where no one else resides. On the phone, my mother explained that my grandmother who I have been very close to my entire life, was in ICU and her condition was critical due to complications from respiratory failures. She put my grandmother on the phone just a minute before she was to be sedated and she said, “I love you” into the phone. I hung up and then began weeping alone in a place I would have never imagined I would experience such sadness, under the bleachers of the Erruption Zone.

If you are like me, chances are that you remember certain events based upon the UK basketball memories that correspond. I have attended nearly every SEC Tournament since 1989, first with my late grandfather and now with my college friends who became the KSR Crew. I correlate my high school graduation with the 96 title, my college graduation with the loss to Syracuse in the 2nd round and my law school graduation with a Final Four robbed by Keith Bogans’ bum ankle. In the last four years, my life has become partially enveloped by Kentucky basketball and to many of you, my connection to UK basketball is really all you know about me. There have been times when that has frustrated me and made me wish for a more diverse experience. But then there are days like yesterday, when I realize how strong an impact UK basketball truly has on my life.

My grandmother has now been taken to UT hospital in Knoxville and it is likely I will be away for a bit from the website. I appreciate all of you who have reached out to me with your thoughts and prayers. Throughout yesterday, we heard ESPN announcers talk about the “all-encompassing passion of UK fans” and how they “eat, sleep and breathe college basketball.” We hear that a lot from various outsiders and at times it may seem a bit cliche. But for me, Rupp Arena was the site yesterday of two life experiences that are as diametrically opposed as one can likely have. Somehow that seems fitting.

Article written by Matt Jones