From the diaries. An epic story. GO BRUINS. -N
Ever since AA first donned the Blue and Gold, my twelve year-old son has idolized #4. This is due partly to the fact that he spent the first 2 years of life, before my wife and I adopted him, living in Compton, just down the street from Centennial High, but more from my hyping AA as a winner and a great role model.
During halftime of a football game last year, I spotted AA and some fellow players out on the concourse. Unfortunately, my son was inside and I ran in to tell him that AA was out there. He took off immediately,however, AA and his buddies had since taken off to return to their seats. My son ran after him and finally spotted him, halfway around the RB, yards ahead. He called out AA's name and AA actually stopped to greet my son and talk with him briefly. Even though my son was beyond thrilled to talk to AA, he was disappointed he was unable to get his autograph because he did not have either a pen or paper.
Fast forwarding to today ... believing that today would be AA's last appearance at Pauley, I took my son to the game armed with a camera and pen. After the game, we stood close by Chris Roberts as he interviewed AA on radio. My son was captivated and I told him to listen how AA responded clearly to each question without any hesitation -- a quality rarely found in professional athletes, let alone collegiate athletes.
Following the interview, AA took off for the media room upstairs and stopped to sign autographs, however, we got there too late. AA said he would be back down to sign more autographs.
Nearly 20 minutes elapsed as we waited in the NE corner for AA to return. My son, growing impatient by the minute, walked upstairs to find AA and instead ran into Josh Shipp who told him that AA was still in the media room. I met my son upstairs and he related to me what Shipp told him. We walked toward the media room and I told my son to try opening the closed door. It was unlocked and we walked in to find the room empty except for AA sitting on a table talking on a cellphone conducting a live radio ingterview and UCLA's SID, Marc Dellins. After he finished his interview, AA greeted my son, signed the cover of the game program bearing his photo and posed for a picture. I told him how proud the Bruin Nation is of him not only for his on-court achievements but more so for his off-court exploits. He thanked me earnestly and when Dellins remarked that I forgot to tell him "One More Year," I simply told AA that he should do what he has to do, but that he will never forget his days as a Bruin. He smiled and thanked me again.
Needless to say, the whole time my son was virtually speechless (quite rare for a 12 y/o) but I came away more impressed with this fine young man than ever. No matter what happens from here on out, AA will go down as one of the greatest Bruins ever -- as we say here, the consummate BenBall Warrior.
BTW, Shipp and Mata both stuck around for 15 minutes signing and posing. Both struck me as great guys as well. Ben must be very proud of the character he has instilled in his players much like that done by JRW before him.