One year ago, my family and I watched Illinois defeat Iowa and become Big Ten Champions.
Fans rushed the court to celebrate, and we made our way down to the floor as well. I was hoping to see one of my former AAU coaches, and former Hawkeye star, Kenyon Murray. He was there cheering on his twin sons, Keegan and Kris, who played for Iowa.
I wasn’t able to find Kenyon amidst the melee, but as my family and I made our way out through the tunnels of the State Farm Center, we ran into Keegan.
He emerged from the visitor’s locker room after the tough loss with his hood up and pizza box in hand. I said hello and explained our connection and then introduced him to my family. My boys, decked out in Illini jerseys and bright orange hoodies were excited and gave high-fives.
Despite the loss, and our Illini gear, Keegan was gracious and engaging. He talked about how special it is to be a teammate of his twin brother. He wasn’t in a rush. He asked us questions. We chatted for about five minutes and then wished him the best. Theresa and I were impressed. My boys – they were starstruck.
The next week, Keegan was named First Team All Big Ten and MVP of the conference tournament. He then became the 4th overall pick in the NBA Draft, Summer League MVP, and is now on pace to break the all time record for most 3-pointers made by a Rookie.
My boys have three jerseys of NBA players. Two of them are of former MVPs and all-time greats – Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steph Curry. The third? It’s #13 for the Sacramento Kings – Keegan Murray.
Keegan wasn’t too big for us or too stuck on himself to share a few minutes with some opposing fans. And now, he has fans for life!
And beyond his growing fan base, Keegan showed us the potential in a seemingly small interaction.
In a few minutes, you can make a difference. In a brief conversation, you can make someone feel seen and known and valued.
You may not have the platform of a professional athlete, but I guarantee you have some one looking up to you.
Meaningfully engage…and you may gain a fan for life! 👊🏼