Napier, Huskies always kept believing

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
9:18
PM ET

NEW YORK -- She used to sneak out of work at lunchtime and drive wherever the game was being played.

Sometimes when she went back to work the next day, she didn't have a job, her boss fed up with an absentee employee.

And then there would be another game, another job and she would do it all over again. The bills would come in and Carmen Velasquez would hole up in her bedroom while she tried to figure out a solution to an unsolvable problem.

"I didn't care," Velasquez said. "My kids came first. My kids always came first. I'd do it all over again if I had to because they knew. They knew it wasn't easy, but they knew I was there for them. It was worth it."

Her voice so hoarse even a whisper was almost too much, Velasquez then started to cry. Because believing something is worth sacrificing and realizing the reward isn't always immediate.

But the believers never stop clinging to the hope. It's why they call it blind faith. That's what Velasquez did.

And that's what she taught her son to do.

Shabazz Napier led Connecticut to a fairy tale Final Four courtesy of a 60-54 win over Michigan State because he scored 25 points and had four assists; because he, like Kemba Walker, the man whose bar he tried to reach for four years, scored or assisted on 45 percent of his team's points en route to the Final Four.

But mostly because Napier, who lost his coach, his conference and a postseason in one year, had faith it could happen even when no one else did.

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Dana O'Neil | email

College Basketball

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