I do not pretend to be a knowledgeable college basketball fan and it’s the one thing I wish I considered further before going to Boston University. Having allegiance to a college with a good football team or basketball team looks fucking awesome. Not only did you get to spend 4 (or more) years at tailgates or preparing to storm the court, but you always have a rooting interest in the biggest sports moments of the year. The Beanpot is cool and all but there’s a reason no fan reaction viral videos come out of New England college hockey tournaments.
Naturally when you don’t automatically have a team to root for, you try to see if your parents went to a school that you can root for, and when your parents went to night school at a local community college, you root for the team of your favorite athlete. For a while that meant I was actively rooting for the Florida Gators, but after the first murder conviction I ran back into the loving arms of Wes Welker and the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
So consider my bandwagon tendencies triggered when Texas Tech made the Final 4 of the March Madness tournament (am I doing this right?). Watching my first Texas Tech game of the year, something quickly caught my eye.
— Wes Welker (@WesWelker) April 7, 2019
…and it was Texas Tech guard Brandone Francis.
As outsider college basketball fans, we also root for stories. People are calling this years championship game lame because there is no Duke, North Carolina, or Kentucky’s left. Sure, Texas Tech has Patrick Mahomes in the stands but I’m not even sure Drake can declare a side of this one and that’s how you know it’s a boring matchup. But when the Red Raiders beat Gonzaga in the Elite 8, Brandone Francis got to celebrate with his favorite rapper Nipsey Hussle.
When I first saw Brandone Francis play, my mind immediately went to something like this:
But with the sudden death of Nipsey Hussle, the day after he was courtside rooting for Brandone and Texas Tech, Brandone Francis’ story made me feel good about being a Red Raiders fan.
He’s forever part of that moment and the Red Raider family. A true artist & activist gone too soon. 🙏🏁 pic.twitter.com/YWmU1JyWyW
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) April 1, 2019
Brandone Francis became friends with Nipsey through his dad, who he was estranged from for 13 years while he grew up with his mom in the Dominican Republic. Over the years, Brandone’s estranged father Bobby became an influential brand strategist for many artists, including you guessed it Nipsey Hussle. After positively influencing Nipsey’s life and career, their relationship helped mend the relationship between Brandone Francis and his father.
Nipsey Hussle was cheering on Texas Tech in the Elite Eight. A day later, he was shot and killed.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 5, 2019
When Nipsey showed up to his game against Gonzaga, it would have put a bow on the future E:60 on Brandone Francis’ career. Because whether it be basketball or something else, I hope we (but especially me) get to see a lot more of Brandone Francis.
He was visibly giddy after Nipsey showed up to the game, a memory he will share with his kids one day. And that was before he was tragically killed and it was convenient for people to come forward on social media and share their condolences. It was genuine love and appreciation.
— NCAA Men's Final Four (@MFinalFour) April 4, 2019
Texas Tech and Brandone Francis were already riding high on emotion after the team surprised him at Senior Night with his mom, who he hadn’t seen in over 2 years, on her first trip to the US.
Texas Tech's Brandone Francis got the perfect surprise from his mother, who hasn't seen him for two years, when she showed up for his senior night. pic.twitter.com/AdwZhvlaHT
— ESPN (@espn) March 5, 2019
I think most people agree that even slightly rooting for Virginia in the championship game feels just a little too nerdy. These kids are going to be fine without a national championship as they pursue a career in insurance sales or accounting. The Texas Tech Red Raiders deserve to win for Brandone Francis, for Nipsey Hussle, and just so we don’t have to watch Virginia win.