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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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“Big Blue Nation,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wildcat fans know what it means to be a champion Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one who competes in and wins competitions and tournaments. However, there are other definitions of the word Ã¢â‚¬Å“championÃ¢â‚¬Â that we hope to see reflected in the young men and women who represent our state university. These definitions include: Ã¢â‚¬Å“defender, supporter, or promoter of somebody or something,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“a personal example of excellence or achievement,Ã¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“a hero.Ã¢â‚¬Â 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 ChildrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Hospital to see a 13-year-old girl who was in UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.Ã‚Â Unfortunately, in the accident she sustained multiple injuries including the loss of her lower right leg.Ã‚Â 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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“very tallÃ¢â‚¬Â 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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“picture of a lifetime,Ã¢â‚¬Â 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 AlexÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they were simply about putting a smile on the face of one teenage girl.
We had witnessed JoshÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.Ã‚Â He is and forever will be a True Blue Champion to our family, friends, and of course, Alex. Thank you Josh!