Marie Jones, 92, can’t make out faces on TV and only sometimes is able to see motion. But that doesn’t stop her from watching every televised University of Kentucky basketball game.
Most of the time, especially when UK is in the NCAA tournament, family members sit with her during games to tell her what she’s missing visually. She sits a couple of feet away from the television during the game.
“I can hear it (the games) pretty well,” said Jones, a Glasgow native. “I have to strain my ears sometimes but I do pretty well with it.”
Her daughter, Debby Browning, took a video of her mother after UK beat Michigan on Sunday. In the video, Jones was rocking back and forth excitedly, clapping her hands and crying joyous tears.
“She was so happy,” Browning said, “They are naming the team the ‘Cardiac Cats’ this year in the tournament. And mom said, ‘Well, that sure is true.’”
During the basketball games, various family members will call Jones to find out what she thinks, her daughter said.
“She may have four or five phone calls during the ballgame and all of them are commenting on the ballgame to her,” Browning said. “I say, ‘Mom, how do you stand it?’ She has a grandson who calls her, my brother calls her, her son-in-law calls her. They are all calling her to get her comments. She talks to all of them.”
Even if the Wildcats are down during a game, she stays positive.
“I say, ‘They are going to win it. They are gonna get better. They are coming out,’” Jones said.
Jones doesn’t just watch the UK games, though. She spends a lot of her time listening to Matt Jones, a sports commentator who talks about the Wildcats. Jones said she wants to wake up in the morning and get dressed early enough so she can watch him, Browning said.
“He has a show on TV every day, 9 to 11, five days a week. She watches it every day that she’s here,” Browning said. “After the game Sunday night, she couldn’t wait to hear him on Monday. She said, ‘I just can’t wait until Matt’s show in the morning to see what he’s got to say.’ “
Jones owns a variety of Wildcat-themed clothing. On Tuesday, she was wearing a wildcat turtleneck, a wildcat sweater, a wildcat pin, blue socks, blue pants and blue earrings. Her daughter said she has been wearing items like that almost every day since the tournament began.
“She also wears UK pajamas,” Browning said, “She probably has 10 to 12 tops.”
She even has a UK-themed Christmas tree.
“The Christmas a year ago, she was in a nursing home because she broke her hip,” Browning said. “We took her Christmas tree out there and set it up. It has blue beads and blue ornaments and blue bow and UK ornaments. I think everybody in the nursing home went to come see her tree.”
Jones said it’s hard to name a favorite Kentucky Wildcat.
“I like James Young because he does a lot of 3-point shots. I like him,” Jones said. “Julius Randle is one of the best. And of course, the (Harrison) twins. They are really good but they get so much more credit than the other players do. And I don’t think that’s fair. ... On Sunday, [Marcus] Lee came out there and had not played any and he was so good. [Willie] Cauley-Stein, he got hurt and I like him. ... He’s really a part of the team.”
Jones said after her husband died 30 years ago, she started watching games with her family.
“My husband never cared for sports and we never watched it when he was living ... ,” she said. “Years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I would get so into a ballgame.”
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