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I was born and raised in the great state of Tennessee but I am Kentucky bred without a doubt. Both of my parents grew up in Eastern Kentucky and every single member of my extended family lives in the state. As a kid, Kentucky was my dream school to attend but out-of-state tuition is a bit too expensive, so I ended up going to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville instead. Last year during the 2013-14 season, I got the chance to attend 5 Kentucky basketball games, which was more than I had been to in my entire life prior to that season. I saw Kentucky beat Eastern Michigan in the ERupption Zone the day before Thanksgiving. I witnessed a kid that I played basketball against in middle school, Craig Bradshaw of Belmont University, get defeated by the Cats as well.
When the Sweet 16 rolled around, I knew that I had to go see Kentucky play Louisville in Indianapolis. Fortunately for me, Tennessee was slated to play Michigan up there the same day, so I used the opportunity to purchase my UT student ticket to see my Cats play the dirty birds. What a game. One of my friends that went on the trip with me said that he had never seen such hostility between two fanbases and was convinced that the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry was the best in all of sports. I went back to Knoxville to see Kentucky beat Michigan and immediately after the game I called my mom to see if we could make a family trip to the Final Four. She said no. Throughout the week I kept calling nightly to see if we could go to Dallas and it got to the point that my dad got pissed and said not to ask again. Thursday rolls around and my mom calls me and tells me to head home because she had just bought tickets for just the Final Four game. Her friends at work had broke her down and convinced her it was a once in a lifetime experience and my dad can’t say no to my mom, she gets what she wants.
We drove 11 hours from Nashville to Dallas, my mom, dad, brother, sister and myself. We got there about 5 hours before tipoff only to realize that my mom had bought championship game tickets instead… My mom quickly snatched up some cheap seats for the Final Four game that she found online and posted our tickets for the title game on StubHub. Aaron of course worked his magic yet again and the Cats were going to the title game, but we were going back to Nashville because my sister had an exam at Lipscomb University that Monday. My mom had agreed, however, that if our tickets hadn’t sold by midnight on Sunday then we would go back to Dallas without my sister. After all, why let perfectly good tickets go to waste? I sat in the living room with my clothes packed ready to head back to Knoxville but praying I didn’t have to. My prayers were answered, nobody bought the tickets, and we were back on the road. Sadly, we all know how that game ended, but but nonetheless, it was still a very fulfilling and unique experience to witness that team make such a fairytale run.