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The Ultimate Reward

Being a 20 year old kid, I never got to see the greats like Pervis, Griffith, Wagner, the McCrays, and Lancaster play. All I heard was just stories. Being a die-hard sports fan did not really hit me till I was ten, watching the like of O'Bannon, Garcia, and Dean do their thing as they lead us back from a 20 point deficit against West Virgina and I remember being as sick as a dog just watching it from my bed. I also remember all my family members were over that day and I could hear them screaming from the living room as O'Bannon was taking over the game. Then I felt my first real heartbreak in sports when Illinois dominated us and Garcia played his worst game. Being a little kid I looked at it and wondered, "Why?" These guys fought so hard to get to the spot they were at, so why play so bad?

That question haunted me for a while.

I had always followed my favorite professional sports teams, but no team gave me a feeling of heartache or dissapointment like that one. Then and there I realized that being a die-hard fan of Louisville is what I want to be and that is what I became.

I feel in love with the likes of Dean, Padgett, T-Will, Andre McGee, E5, Kuric, and even had those weird relationships with people like Sosa and Caracter. I started to develop a hatred for Kentucky fans, even though I do respect their tradition and their program as a whole. I started to realize that as I was watching Louisville in the NIT the following year from the 04-05 Final Four team that this is what I will have to do to be a die-hard fan.

Endure.

Go through the likes of seeing a cool team with Padgett as their leader lose to North Carolina, seeing T-Will blossom before our very eyes and have one of the most talented teams ever in the history of Louisville basketball only to fail at the hands of the wizard Izzo and his Spartans the following year.

I endured.

To watching the unfourtunate failed careers of Samardo and Edgar as they kind of gave up against California in the first round of the tournament. Then to watching the "Bridge Year" team as the unlikey heroes of Knowles and Marra and Kuric gave us hope in the Big East Championship game only to fall like a comet and become subject to "March Madness" and fall to Morehead State in the first round and watch Knowles on the sidelines looking helpless.

Then to watching a great bunch of kids play wonderful defense and go all the way to the Final Four, and of course, only seemed fitting to have to play and lose to Kentucky. I never heard the end of it, all my Kentucky friends would not stop talking crap and as they won the championship I looked on the TV screen and said to myself:

I have endured, that will be us next year.

I was right and I could not be any more happier.

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