By LARRY VAUGHT
NASHVILLE — Zach Hodskins says there is only one Ryan Lemond.
“He’s always the goofy Ryan Lemond,” said Hodskins. “That’s the only guy I have ever known, but I love him.”
Hodskins is a junior walk-on guard on the Florida basketball team that beat Arkansas 68-61 here Thursday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. But he’s not just any walk-on player.
He was born without the lower half of his left arm but caught the eye of then Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey while playing high school basketball in Georgia and got an invitation from then Florida coach Billy Donovan to walk on the team.
Lemond, a well-known sports personality with Kentucky Sports Radio, knew Hodskins and his family when they all lived in Owensboro. He is Hodskins’ godfather and one of his biggest supporters.
Often Lemond has talked about the impact Hodskins has had on his life. But Thursday Hodskins explain that has gone both ways.
“He has meant the world to me. He’s like a second father and one of my biggest supporters,” Hodskins, a public relations major who hopes to do motivational speaking about his religion, said. “From the time I was born, he’s been around. I remember growing up and him and his son being there always.”
Hodskins and his family moved to Georgia but the friendship never went away. Lemond, his wife Amanda and their three sons are all close to the Florida sophomore and he says Lemond manages to see him play once or twice each year other than the SEC Tournament.
He even got seats on the second row for Amanda and Ryan Lemond Thursday.
“You just ask around and get all the tickets you can,” Hodskins said.
He did laugh when ask about Ryan Lemond’s halftime appearances at most UK home games in Rupp Arena where he oversees a fan shooting contest.
“I don’t know why they even have him down there,” Hodskins said in the locker room loud out for Lemond to hear.
However, there’s no doubt he’s sincere about his feelings for Ryan Lemond and his family.
“I know his three boys look up to me. I want them to. I want to be there for them just like he was always there for me,” Hodskins said.
He won’t get to spend much time with Lemond, or his own parents, during Florida’s stay here as the Gators face Texas A&M Friday at 1 p.m. However, he says he’s not above a prank call to KSR’s show Friday which airs from 10 a.m. to noon at the Tin Roof in Nashville.
“My dad and I have called in before with fake names,” Hodskins said. “I might do it tomorrow. I just can’t tell you the name I use.”