Tigers celebrate in style after OT win
ATLANTA -- Big Baby's momma wasn't going to be held back. She was headed to the court, to the stage, to her son, and no one was going to stop her.
While LSU was celebrating its overtime win over Texas on the Georgia Dome court, Glen Davis' mother, Toyna, started making her way from the stands.
"I'm going to the court, I'm going to the court," she said.
And when she arrived on the stage, the start of one of the most unique celebrations at a regional final ensued. It's only fitting that a team from Louisiana, with a Baton Rouge base but a New Orleans attitude, would embrace a berth in the Final Four like no other.
The yellow guard tape that the staid NCAA puts around the court usually keeps everyone at considerable distance. But Davis just blew through it to the stage.
On the podium, with her son wearing a yellow boa, she hugged and kissed him and made sure she got in her congratulatory hugs for his teammates.
Finally, with her new Final Four hat on, she exited the stage with an official arena escort.
"It means a lot for me to have her experience something like that," Davis said of his mother, who had battled drug addiction while he was a child. "She's always been a supportive person for me."
"I've known Glen's mother since the eighth grade -- a wonderful lady -- and we all have difficulties, but Glen Davis is who he is because of his mother," LSU coach John Brady said of Davis' bubbly personality. "Our players have known her for a long time, too. That's why there is a strong family thing with this team."
And you could tell by the reaction of the fans, family and friends.
Never before in 17 years of covering the NCAA Tournament has this reporter seen a team grab the microphone to address the crowd at a regional final. Brady spoke. Davis spoke. Darrel Mitchell spoke. And then they danced. They did a jig for a bit. The euphoria then continued around the court.
No one was more emotional than Tyrus Thomas. He climbed over the railing to hug his mother, Jessica Johnson. He then started embracing family and friends deep in the stands while his teammates were starting to cut down the nets. Then, he ran down high-fiving nearly every fan who was draped over the railing, like Cal Ripken's impromptu run around Camden Yards when he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak in 1995.
Thomas hugged children, grown men, women, and slapped palms with any flesh he could find.
In one of the more touching moments for hacks who have been covering the game for years and the sports information directors who toil in obscurity, Thomas found Kent Lowe and made sure he got his chance to cut a piece of the net. Lowe has been LSU's SID for 18 years and the portly, gregarious character climbed up the ladder to the appreciation of many.
"All of these fans have been here with us from Day 1, and I wanted to thank them and show our love to them," Thomas said.
Earlier on the stage during Davis' rallying speech, he mentioned how they had done this for those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Lowe said he hasn't been around a team that is having this much fun since the days of working with Shaq's crew under Dale Brown in the late 1980s and early '90s. LSU is the anti-Connecticut. The Huskies don't particularly look like they're enjoying their Tournament run whereas LSU can't soak up enough of it. Indianapolis will be getting a late Mardi Gras with this crew later this week.
"I have a unique collection of players, and after the celebration, I was walking with Glen, Tyrus and Darrel and I said, 'You know, this is nice, but for some reason, I feel like this isn't over,' " Brady said. "We're going to the Final Four, but it's not the end. I'm surprised myself, because before this happened, I thought I would react differently and run around the floor. I feel like there is something else out there for our team.
"I thought our team was being who it is, outgoing, fun, but loving and serious when they need to be," Brady added. "From some of the backgrounds that our players are from, there's nothing wrong with letting out the emotion."
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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