A rainy day up in Ann Arbor, Michigan is conducive to making one's day worse. The rain echoed the sentiments of all Cardinal fans today . . .
As soon as my mother, back in Louisville, called and left me a message letting me know of the horrible news about your brother, my heart seemed to sink to the ground. While I may not be related to you directly, as a lifelong Cardinal fan, I feel a direct connection to you as well as any player who dons that Cardinal uniform in addition to all the coaches, administrators, and so on. While I am not able to feel the pain you are feeling right now, the anguish I feel for you and your family is still great. This is an absolutely terrible occurance in your life, one that you, your family, and - most of all - your brother should never have had to go through. Yet, unfortunately, death is a way of life, and, even worse, dying before it is one's time to go is also a way of life. I hope you can only take solace in the fact that your brother is in a better place, one free of sadness or violence.
While I never met your brother, I have vivid memories of him. I had the privilege of sitting next to your family during last year's Conference USA championship game. Every time you did something good on the court - be it a three, a dunk, a made basket, an assist, a rebound, whatever - while your family would scream, your brother would jump up and down, cheering at the top of his lungs for you, clapping wildly. Throughout the game, he had this great big smile on his face, one that closely resembles your smile. He was beaming with pride for you during the entire game. He was so proud of you, Francisco. Both my mom and myself (and I'm sure anyone else around your family) could see it clearly. And I remember my heart melting when, after you were presented with a trophy for being named to the All-Tournament Team, going immediately up to him and handing him the trophy. What was the first thing he did? He ran right up and down the aisle, holding that trophy as high as he could, beaming once again with pride.
I may not have known him but for that one game, Francisco, but one thing was and still remains clear: He loved you very much.
There is no doubt in my mind that he will be watching over you for the rest of your life, cheering you on while you play, helping you make that game-winning shot, making sure that you live a great life. He will always be watching over you.
Whether you lace up your shoes tonight, Saturday, or whenever is irrelevant. The only thing that matters right now is being with your family, consoling each other, and realizing how much he loved you.
I may not know you personally either, Francisco, but you will always have a brother in me and siblings not just within the team, but also in all Cardinal fans across the world. Whenever you need us, we will be always be there for you.
This is a horrible loss, but I know in my heart that you will only grow stronger because of this. You are a great man, Francisco - and your brother's actions at that championship game prove that.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this horrible time.