“My aunt was the one who brought me around the Jackson State athletic programs. We always attended all of the functions. She brought me around, and I just fell in love with the basketball program. I had a passion for being around basketball and the athletes, and they took me under their wing and treated me like the little brother of the program. I developed relationships with the players, working my way up from middle school through high school, and then getting a chance to be a manager here.
I had been joking with the (head) coach throughout the week and for the last two years about senior night. I was going to warm up with the team and everything. I didn’t know, for sure, if he was serious. Then, one day, he said he was going to let me do it. It went from me being able to warm up to me being able to participate in the shoot-arounds and get in a real game. He motivated the guys during the pre-game and they went out and played hard for me so I would be able to get in the game. And I thank them for that, as well as the coaches for trusting me to be able to go out there with the guys. We actually needed that game for seeding purposes. So for us to be at this point in the season, where we’re competing for placement in the tournament, I found it very significant that he gave me the opportunity to come out and dress out for senior night.
On the court, it didn’t feel real. I felt like I was in the video game NBA 2K. It was like I was out there in MyPlayer mode. It was fast-paced. I felt the crowd behind me, the players, all of the support staff, everybody that was in the gym. I felt the love, and I knew everybody wanted to see me get one shot to fall. That’s what gave me confidence, shot after shot, to keep shooting it. Everybody’s behind you and you’re going to get a lot of support and recognition for it. I’m just glad I was able to make the shot and make the fans happy. Overall, it’s just a great experience that I’ll never forget.
– Thomas aka ‘Snacks’, senior recreation administration major from Jackson, Miss.