An Old Man’s Wish and a Wildcat Favor

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This from Gabrielle Wallace ’12 speaks—volumes—for itself.

An Old Man’s Wish and a Wildcat Favor

I cannot count the number of times older alumni mentioned the strong connection that we graduates share, and how the Davidson bond follows you wherever you go. “Great,” I thought to myself, “Real handy when I’ll be 3,000 miles away.” After graduating last May, I moved back home to the West Coast. Yet as fate would have it, a Wildcat was about to make history not those thousands of miles away in North Carolina, but in my own back yard. And not just any Wildcat, but Stephen Curry.

Steph Curry and Gary Wallace

I found out about Stephen gearing up to break the 3-point single-season shot record the morning of the game. The very first thing in the morning, in fact, with my father rapping at my door and shouting how we needed to buy tickets immediately. I had to rub my eyes to realize I wasn’t dreaming, because I couldn’t remember the last time Dad had urged me out of bed.

My dad had been diagnosed with liver cancer on August 15, 2012 and given approximately one to three months to live. By the grace of God (and some holistic medicine), he had been outliving the doctor’s expectations by several months. However his health still steadily declined, and he moved in with me on his 73rd birthday. Some days he would not leave the bed, his liver cancer now also in his lymph nodes, a lung, and spine draining all of his energy. Yet there was my father (in mid April) with a vitality in his voice I hadn’t heard since before his terrible diagnosis. I opened my eyes to see him peeking his head in my bedroom door, listening how much he wanted to watch Stephen beat our home team, the Portland Trail Blazers. So, around noon, we splurged on some good seats for the 7:30 game. He was so excited he could hardly sit still, which was saying something for Dad these days. And suddenly an idea hit me, and I decided to put this Davidson connection to the test.

The first person I contacted was my friend Meg Jarrell: she lived across the hall from me freshman year on Second Belk, and as an athlete got to know Stephen herself. I told her that it would mean the world to me if he could grant us a short hello, and wondered if she could get a hold of him. It was 12:30 and I had 7 hours until tip-off to make it happen. She suggested I e-mail Bob McKillop, so I sent him an e-mail explaining my situation. I got no reply. After clinging to my iPhone for four hours, I finally let the crazy idea go, and went to run an errand. I came back home to a missed call and froze in shock as Bryant Barr’s voice came through my voicemail. Coach McKillop had forwarded my e-mail to Bryant, who had spoken with Stephen, and suddenly I was being offered post-game visitor’s passes and courtside tickets.

I decided to keep it a surprise for my dad until we got to the arena, and asked if we could wait a minute in the lobby before sitting down. Bryant and his friend (a friend who was offering up his courtside tickets for us) kindly explained to my father that he would not be sitting in section 121, row R, but would be sitting floor-level, watching the game from mere feet away. It was a moment I’ll never forget: realization and pure gratitude filling my father’s face as tears swept over mine. The rest, as basketball fans across the nation saw, was history.

Dad was elated to meet Stephen and, though I had to support his weight as we walked slowly up the stairs and out of the arena, he claimed he was so happy he felt he was floating on air. And I realized, 3,000 miles away, that my Davidson connection had never felt stronger.

 

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