There are two great profile pieces in the paper today that makes it clear how close knit the UCLA basketball family is within our team and how it extends into the greater Bruin community.
I will start with Marcia Smith (yes Marcia from the OC Register actually has written something readable) who profiles DC and his close friendship with JS, and the Bruin All American's humility on and off the court:
"It takes a lot for Darren to show himself," said his mother, June Collison, watching from the stands with husband, Dennis Collison, on Senior Day. "He's grown up in front of this crowd as a basketball player."
What's behind the sheen is a person even more solid than his game, stronger than any hardwood. He's simple instead of enigmatic. He's gracious and humble. He's introspective and thoughtful. He's loving to his family and loyal to his friends, his Etiwanda High, his Rancho Cucamonga hometown and to UCLA, one of the few colleges who recruited him.
He's staying quiet when others might explode. He's watching and studying NBA point guards Deron Williams and Chris Paul in games he recorded while his friends are at the movies. He's playing senior teammate Josh Shipp in five-hour marathon "NBA2K8" contests when other Big Men on Campus could be out partying.
"Darren is one of my best friends," said Shipp. "My college experience wouldn't have been such a great ride if I didn't share it with him. There's more to him than basketball."
Collison's bowing his head, closing his eyes and clutching his hands to say grace while other teammates have already driven forks into their dinners. He's cheering for reserves when he's on the bench. He's putting on an ironed shirt and slacks and going to church – he's a Jehovah's Witness – while his classmates are sleeping in on Sunday mornings.
He doesn't crave attention. He doesn't seek personal glory. He won't ever get caught bragging, though he'd interrupt an interview with Shipp to clarify that "we're tied, 3-3," in their video game series in which Shipp always takes the Cleveland Cavaliers and Collison, the Lakers.
Interestingly JS's family figures prominently in another profile piece in the Daily News today featuring the family of who many believe is the MVP of this year's Bruins squad:
Basketball was Aboya's ticket to a good education and a promising career. His parents supported him when he left to go to a prep school, Tilton School, in New Hampshire.
"Since he was very young, Alfred has this thing in his mind that he's going to make it," Angele said. "It was very important for him that we see what he's accomplished here."
Though Aboya went long stretches without seeing his parents, he has been focused and guided by their love.
"When you have the support of your family, it drives you," Aboya said.
Those in the UCLA basketball community - parents, friends and fans - were eager to meet Aboya's parents. Coach Ben Howland wanted an opportunity to thank them and tell them how much he appreciates their son.
Joanne Garb, whose son-in-law, Bertrand Kamga, is from Cameroon and is friends with Aboya, gave Angele flowers and a note that read: "Welcome to America." Garb said it was a gift from one mom to another.
Josh Shipp's mom, Debbie, invited Aboya's family to dinner with her family. She asked an interpreter to tell them that Aboya never gets full.
Read the whole story from Jill Painter here. It's a fantastic read that will make you even prouder of these kids than you already were.