Juice's Biggest Fan

Not long after Northwestern's heartbreaking loss to top-ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament, most of the Wildcat faithful had left Conseco Fieldhouse and began their travels home. As fans circulated in for the next game, there was one Northwestern fan still left in Conseco Fieldhouse.

There was Gina Thompson waiting for her son, Michael, as she has for every game of his college career, and even long before that.

From his childhood as a boy in Lincoln Park through the end of his college career; after each gratifying victory and disappointing loss, Juice Thompson has had one constant. Each time he took the court, he could look into the stands and see his number one fan—his mother.

"College, high school, grammar school, she comes to every game," said JuiceThompson. "She worked the late night shift till about 2 a.m.—she just stays up. Sometimes, she works overtime to get to the game. She's been to every single game."

Growing up as a kid in Lincoln Park, Juice was always playing basketball. Whether it was a pick-up game or an AAU game, basketball was always a part of his life. During his early years of basketball, Gina Thompson was always willing to make sacrifices to help her out her son.

"For the most part, it was her driving me to my AAU practices," Thompson said. "My father worked in the afternoon, so my mom would take me to practice. I played AAU in Deerfield, so she would sit around and read for an hour and a half while waiting for me."

When Thompson's senior year came around, he had scholarship offers from schools all across the country. He had offers from Northwestern, Clemson, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Dayton, and a few others.

As decision time came, Juice had the opportunity to go away from home, but as always, he had his mother in mind. With that, he elected to play his college basketball in Evanston—just a short drive from his home in Lincoln Park.

"(My mom) played a huge role in my decision," Thompson said. "Every boy says he's a "momma's boy", but I think I'm the biggest momma's boy in the world. I wanted to be around my family and friends, but I had to be near my mom."

But Juice admits, he's always been a momma's boy.

As a child, Thompson had to leave home behind for an overnight camp, where he was away from his family. Shortly into the camp, Juice wanted to go home. It wasn't his friends of toys that he was missing—it was his mother.

After begging to get home, Juice's mother was called to come pick him up and take him home.

"As soon as my mom came, I was so happy,"

When Juice got up to Evanston for his freshman season at Northwestern, Gina Thompson continued to be Juice's biggest supporter. She purchased a purple Northwestern jersey, and had Juice's number 22 and "Juice" sewn on the back.

In his freshman year, Juice and the Wildcats struggled. The team won just one game in conference play, and finished the season 8-22.

Thompson struggled with the losses and became frustrated with each loss. As things grew tough, he turned to his mother for support.

"I wasn't talking to my friends a lot, I spaced myself a way from people," Thompson said. "I went to my mom and she said ‘you always go through rough things in life, but the way you react to things determines how things change."

Throughout his four years at Northwestern, Thompson was known for his energy and passion for the game. The point guard—who started all 129 games of his career—had his inspiration sitting in the crowd for each game.

"Just looking into the crowd and knowing my family and my mom are there, it gives me the extra motivation," said Thompson

During his historic career at Northwestern, Juice Thompson experienced many highs and lows. After each game—win or loss—his mother was there waiting for him.

"She's my number one fan."


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