LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A lot of people were concerned about the status of Willie S. on Facebook Saturday morning. I told them my ankle was fine, but I did have a little head cold.
Of course, they were talking about Willie Cauley-Stein, the Kentucky Wildcat center who twisted his ankle in the NCAA game against Louisville Friday night. The injury was serious and now he’s on crutches and will miss the Final Four.
Willie was a defensive mainstay for the up-and-down Kitty Cats all season. That’s why fans were concerned about his potential absence. But then forgotten freshman Marcus Lee stepped up and gave the team a huge boost off the bench.
Lee’s unexpected contribution was just a small part of a miracle March Madness run put on by this enigmatic Kentucky team. Just a few weeks ago, the Wildcats were unwatchable as they flailed around and lost to inferior teams. Now, we can’t believe our eyes as they conquer some of the best teams in the tournament.
Just two games away from another national title, Kentucky has rallied around the fallen Cauley-Stein. “Win it for Willie” slogans are all over Facebook and other social media.
It’s nice to see another Willie do well and be thought of so fondly by his teammates. I say it’s nice because for most of my life, I knew of only four Willies in the entire world — myself, my father, Willie Nelson and Willie Mays.
I’m proud of my name, because I am proud of the man I am named after. If I can be a small token of the kind, loving, strong man he was, then I’ve served his name well.
But let’s face it, it’s a unique name. That’s why I’m enjoying the positive contributions made to the name recently by Willie Cauley-Stein and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. I’ll strive to make positive contributions as well. The few of us have to stick together.