March Madness. There's nothing quite like it. The brackets, the buzzer beaters, and of course, all those games!It's one of those special times of the year for sports fans. But what about the parents of the players? Are they able to enjoy this crazy, two-week run of heart-stopping entertainment as well?
For one mom, that answer is easy! Fannie Brown's son, Jabari, will be playing in his first NCAA tournament when his Missouri Tigers face off against Colorado State tonight. In Fannie Brown's words, they've been college basketball fans "for a long time."
Sports analysts love to talk about how the "Road to the Final Four" and the challenges that come with winning this tournament. For the Browns, Jabari's journey to get to this point has been just as challenging.
Jabari was a prized recruit coming out of Oakland High School in California. After an intense recruiting process, he ended up deciding on the University of Oregon. Unfortunately, according to Fannie, it "just wasn't a good fit." Oregon's loss ended up being Missouri's gain. But since he transferred, he had to sit out last season. While his chance to play in the 'big dance" may have taken longer than hoped, it also comes with some added perspective.
This is something Fannie says she and her husband preached during this journey. It's always "academics and then basketball. Because basketball is the avenue that's getting him too that college," she told HLN. "One thing we've always told our son, first and foremost, get an education because whenever basketball ends, God willing, you have a lot of life in you to live. What are you going to do with that time. It's really about getting a good education."
On the eve of the start of the tournament, we asked Fannie how she was going to take in all the "madness."
HLN: Are you going to the games?
Fannie Brown: Yes. We are on our way out today.
HLN: What's the feeling around your family right now?
FB: It's exciting. We love March Madness! We are ecstatic for Jabari to be there.
HLN: Do you have any superstitions? Do you do anything special before or during the games?
FB: No superstitions. One of the things we all always say is "next game, next play." I just reach out to my son first and say "Are you good?" and when he tells me "Mom, yes I'm good," I know I'm good to go.
HLN: As a mom, how is it watching your son on the big stage?
FB: I'm proud. I always tell Jabari and my younger son, Jamil, that I'm proud of them. There aren't that many people that get this opportunity. To see them deal with adversity, overcome it, learn from it and grow and mature as young men makes me very proud!
HLN: Do you ever worry about the pressures or the limelight that comes with big time college basketball?
FB: You always want the best for your offspring. You want them to aspire and do well and you want to protect them. But you have to step back and let them grow on their own. Jabari has excelled at Missouri because they exude that family feeling there. I've seen him grow tremendously.
HLN: Now the big question, if the game is on the line, do you want your son to take the last shot?
FB: Oh, yes! Jabari is not afraid to take that shot.