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College Basketball

TSU Basketball Player’s Mom Returns From Iraq, Surprises Him In Locker Room (Video)

Here is a heartwarming story which is incredibly fitting in light of the fact many of us will be spending time with our family and loved ones tomorrow on Thanksgiving. During a pregame speech from head coach John Cooper, Tennessee State University Tigers redshirt freshman M.J. Rhett was given the floor so he could be surprised by a visitor he had no idea would be at the game, let alone in the country: Rhett’s mother Stephanie, a E-5 sergeant in the National Guard, showed up in the locker room before TSU’s game against North Carolina. Rhett had no idea she was home from Iraq and it was the first time the two had seen each other since Stephanie’s deployment last August.

Via The Dagger:

“When I saw her, I was in disbelief,” the younger Rhett said by phone after the game. “I hadn’t seen her in so long and I hadn’t talked to her in the past three or four days. I didn’t have any clue what was going on and I was getting a little worried how she was doing. But when she popped up in the locker room, I was shocked and relieved.”

Stephanie Rhett, who took a 10-year leave from the military to raise M.J., sat behind the bench and watched her son score two points and grab five boards in TSU’s 102-69 loss to North Carolina, although I’m pretty sure for one night, getting beat by the No. 1-ranked team in the country took a backseat to the joy of seeing his mother. And while he talks to her frequently on Skype, being face-to-face with who he refers to as “like his best friend” was about the best thing that could have happened to the young man:

“She’s had a huge influence on my life,” Rhett said. “She’s like my best friend. I talk to her almost every day. I can talk to her about anything, girls, basketball, school, anything. No matter what, I can talk to her.”

Rhett learned after the game that his mother doesn’t have to return to Iraq for two weeks, which means he will spend Thanksgiving day with both his father and mother, capping off a wonderful, heartfelt and joyous reunion for their family. Remember the Rhett family if you are lucky enough to sit down for dinner with your loved ones. It required an incredible surprise and an unannounced trip halfway across the world for the Rhetts to be able to enjoy what many of us will take for granted this Thanksgiving. Perhaps more importantly, remember that there are many families who have loved ones serving in the military who are not so fortunate this holiday season.