This One's for Mom
Editor's Note: The following story appeared in Wednesday's edition of Kansas State Official Sports Report and was written by OSR's Mark Janssen. Official Sports Report will be honoring Kansas State's five senior basketball players this week with each having a unique story from their Wildcat career. Saluted in Senior Day games Saturday will be Kari Kincaid and Ashley Sweat from the women's team, and, Chris Merriewether, Luis Colon and Denis Clemente from the men's side. We hope you enjoy their reflection on their days as a Wildcat.
MANHATTAN, Kan. - If you think Senior Night is going to be emotional for Luis Colon on Saturday, what do you think it will be like for Madeline Rivera?
Looking into the distance, and with a bit of a tear in his eye, the Wildcat senior said, "My mother has never seen me play a game of basketball. She means the world to me. She's the person I love most in the world, and she will be here for Senior Night."
Rivera, who speaks no English, never saw her son play in one year of high school basketball back in Carolina, Puerto Rico, or at any of the three high schools Colon played for after moving to Miami, Fla.
Slowly, Colon, who has the name of his mother tattooed on his right calf, said, "She has never seen me play in my life. Things aren't the same (in Puerto Rico). Things are just different back home and she had to work."
Changing his mood, Colon gave a laugh when he said his mother had seen him play on ESPN, and quickly became one of his critics: "She said I run ugly. She says I put my head down and my elbows fly all over the place."
Colon says he's not certain if his father Miguel Colon will be able to make the trip, but Art Alvarez, his AAU coach - "My father figure and my mentor." - will also be in attendance.
Asked if his mother has any idea what the Bramlage Coliseum atmosphere will be like, Colon laughed out loud as he said, "Not all."
Chuckling, he added, "She's been asking about the cold weather. She's really worried about that."
Pausing, he said, "I've told her how 13,000 people will be there, but she has no idea what to expect."
Not even of her son's popularity? "No idea. Nooooo idea."
For that matter, Colon had no idea about Kansas State when he arrived four years ago understanding only a couple dozen words in English, and personally speaking even less.
"This place has changed my life. It's the place where I came as a little boy and turned into a grown man," said the 23-year-old Colon. "It's the place where I found more than a coach. I found a father figure in Frank (Martin) and a group of players who became my brothers."
In reality, it's the first place in years and years Colon has called home.
"In Puerto Rico I was moving all over the place, and when I moved to Miami, I still moved around. I played at three high schools in three years, so this is the only place that's been like a home," Colon said. "I would recommend this place to anybody."
Colon openly talks of a better life that he's found in the United States, and in particular, the Little Apple in the Flint Hills of Kansas.
Where would he be without it?
Pausing, Colon quietly said, "You never know, but I wouldn't be the same Lou, for sure. I'm a Lou that I'm proud of."
Knowing the reputation of his coach, it might be humorous to some when Colon reflects, "I was a hot-head when I got here, but Frank taught me to calm down. He's taught me so many things in life."
Like? "Like, when you do things right and work hard, there's going to be something good for you waiting."
What's awaiting for Colon is a professional career, likely back in his native country of Puerto Rico.
"I can't imagine my life without basketball," said Colon. "I want to play and make some money for my mom."