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Alex Otte and Josh Harrellson

Alex Otte and Josh Harrellson

Guest post: This heartwarming story by Laura Otte involving her daughter, Alex, and former Wildcat Josh Harrellson shows just what Kentucky basketball is all about. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and let Laura know we appreciate her and continue to think about her courageous daughter.

By LAURA OTTE

As members of the “Big Blue Nation,” Wildcat fans know what it means to be a champion – one who competes in and wins competitions and tournaments. However, there are other definitions of the word “champion” that we hope to see reflected in the young men and women who represent our state university. These definitions include: “defender, supporter, or promoter of somebody or something,” “a personal example of excellence or achievement,” or “a hero.” With the graduation of Josh Harrellson, the University of Kentucky said goodbye to not only a great athlete, but a champion in every sense of the word!

In July of 2010, a family friend asked Jon Hood if he would mind visiting the UK Children’s Hospital to see a 13-year-old girl who was in UK’s Pediatric Intensive Care as a result of a tragic accident involving a drunken boater. Alex played and loved basketball, and being from Lexington, naturally loved the UK Wildcats.  Unfortunately, in the accident she sustained multiple injuries including the loss of her lower right leg. In an act of genuine kindness, Jon came to visit Alex with his teammate, Josh Harrellson.

Head trauma and pain killers prevented Alex from remembering anything about that visit except for seeing two “very tall” guys by her bed; however, in the spirit of True Blue fans, the family had pictures! It was unbelievable to them that these busy athletes would take the time to come to the hospital to brighten the day of this young girl and her exhausted family!

Injured the first weekend in July, Alex returned to the first day of the new school year a month later in a c-collar and wheelchair. She finished the school year playing basketball with an NBA hopeful! Alex reconnected with Josh Harrellson over the Internet just to thank him for visiting her during her hospital stay. She also wanted to let him know that during the “picture of a lifetime,” she was not happy that her family had not removed the tubes from her nose or the c-collar from around her neck. On May 26th, a normal end-of-year school day at Trinity Christian Academy, Josh Harrellson took it upon himself to provide Alex the opportunity for photo retakes. He showed up at her school and spent over two hours signing autographs, interacting with the faculty, and playing basketball with Alex and her 7th and 8th grade classmates. He even granted Alex’s request for an autograph on her prosthetic leg.

Our family has always known that both current and former UK athletes take time to participate in charity events and fundraisers which help communities across the Commonwealth. But these acts were not about raising money, doing community service, receiving publicity or notoriety – they were simply about putting a smile on the face of one teenage girl.

We had witnessed Josh’s work ethic and talents as an athlete during his final year at UK, but we had no idea to the depth of his character. He is and forever will be a True Blue Champion to our family, friends, and of course, Alex. Thank you Josh!

Alex Otte and Josh Harrellson.

Alex Otte and Josh Harrellson.

15 Responses to Harrellson again shows why he’s a UK favorite with his kindness toward a courageous young fan

  • Charlie Perkins says:

    As much as we love our Wildcat basketball, these young men are about so much more. They continually prove that we could be even prouder of them.

  • ColoradoWildCat says:

    I have to tell ya…this brought a tear to this ol’ mans eyes.

    Twenty years ago, we lost our youngest daughter in a similarly tragic accident. I can only imagine what this means to this young lady and her family.

    WAY TO GO “JORTS”!!!!! You can never go wrong putting the interest of others first.

    Then again, neither can we. Wonder how many of us actually do?

    • larryvaught says:

      Colorado, brought a tear to my eyes, too, as well as your story does.
      Will have more on this story next week that will blow you away even more
      Please tell your friends to read this. Should be one of those stories that explodes on the web for UK fans to read.

  • rod says:

    Jorts is a special CAT and a wonderful representative for all the Wildcat faithful. Lots of nice young men wear the blue & white & do great deeds that we don’t know about – but I think Jorts is unique. Thanks for another great story Larry.

  • Tana says:

    First, Laura, thanks so much for sharing your touching, heartwarming story (and who could read it without tears), and I want you to know that you have a lovely young daughter of whom I know you must be most proud. Then thanks go to Josh Harrelson for kindly bringing that smile to your daughter’s face, and I’m sure none are surprised to read about that action from Josh. Finally, my condolences to you, ColoradoWildCat, for I feel sure what tragically happened twenty years ago seems like yesterday. Bless all of you, including Josh and Jon Hood — and thanks to Larry, as always.

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story. All too often, we only hear the bad news about our favorite athletes, so this is a very welcome story. With Jorts, though, it’s not a rare story. I think we’re gonna miss the Big Guy. God bless you and your family, Mrs. Otte.

  • Bobby Dick says:

    Wow just wow its all over UKAA my son has cerebal palsey and has had several corrective surgerys over the years his last one in 2009 i got in contact with a very nice lady at uk and she arranged a visit with a uk football player my son is a huge uk football fan she asked who is his favorite player and of course it was Randall Cobb and without hesitation Randall Cobb and Demoreo Ford came to Shriners hospital and visited him and when I say visited I mean theses guys hung out with my son for several hours they arranged a visit to a practice took him to the locker room treated him like he was one of the team we as the BBN should stand very tall and proud of the young men and women that pour their hearts and souls out not only on the sports feilds but in our communities as well I for one am very touched with all they do GO BIG BLUE!!!

  • Judi Cole says:

    I see a future for Josh that involves working with children. Most of the stories about Jorts involve the nice things he does for young people. He will have a lifetime of love from Wildcat fans!

  • King Ghidora says:

    Lexington again is the shining city on the hill and the spirit of Rupp lives on.

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    I suspect there are many, many more stories like these with the UK athletes. The UK athletes all seem to get that they are not just athletes, but they have a much larger role in the community than just playing sports. I applaud the mentality and the administration at UK that encourages them to give some of these “memories of a lifetime” to people, and especially kids.

  • It would be so easy for these UK players to have the I’m a STAR attitude, but from I can read none of them seem to be that way,I know it makes me and I’m sure all the BBN proud. The Admn. and the coaches have set a very good example for the athletes they just don’t tell them to do good things they go and do good things themselves and set the pattern. Now it is carrying over after they graduate or in some cases leave early.The most recent that comes to mind is Jacob Tamme and what he is doing for the injured service men and women. What a blessing to be able to be proud of these athletes for more than sports!!!

  • Lori Metcalf says:

    This is what happens when UK coaches recruit good young men (and women, too), not just good players. We’ve seen too many stories of athletes gone wrong. I wish this story and others like it, including Bobby’s above, were the ones getting the headlines. It makes it easy to love the blue when it’s worn by men and women of integrity and honor. Go Cats!

    • larryvaught says:

      Cal’s players all seem to buy into that service-oriented attitude, something he never gets credit for, but Josh truly is special

  • TrueBlueJohn says:

    I have a feeling that when Josh’s playing career is over, he will wind up back in a place that loves him, Lexington. What company wouldn’t want to hire a young man with the qualities that he has. He is a credit to the university, and to Kentucky in general. It seems that everyday that we see a story about community service and goodwill from UK athletes, for example the Ethiopia trip by Stuart Hines and Danny Trevathian.

    Makes you proud to be a Wildcat fan.

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