College Basketball Nation: Jordan Hicks

We use the word inspiration so much it’s almost become trite.

Sometimes we call moments special when they really aren’t much to speak of, and so we become almost numb to the moments that truly transcend ordinary.

Jordan Hicks and his mother, Carla, are here to remind us what inspiration is really about, what really does matter.

On Saturday, Hicks played his last home game for Loyola (Chicago) and as is the norm for every senior day, his mother was there to watch.

Except Carla Hicks was in a wheelchair, the latest concession in a six-year battle with cancer. It started with a diagnosis of breast cancer when her only child was a high school senior, continued when he was a college freshman with news that the cancer was now in Carla’s lungs and unrelentingly and unsparingly marched on two years ago, with a diagnosis of three brain tumors.

Yet Carla was there at Gentile Arena to escort her son to midcourt before the game. And that introduction of mother and son wasn’t even the best moment.

[+] EnlargeJordan Hicks
Courtesy Loyola UniversityJordan Hicks and his mother Carla embraced after a senior day performance for the ages.
No, the moment came after Hicks scored a career-high 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in Loyola’s win over Cleveland State. After the game ended he went directly to his mother and as the two embraced, Hicks’ entire team and coaching staff came over in what turned into an unforgettable group hug.

“These guys have had my back on and off the court, ever since they heard about my mother’s illness," Hicks told ESPN.com. “A lot of these guys, they’re 18 and 19, so to them life is all good. You go to school for free, you play basketball, what is there to worry about? For them to take it all in, to support me, it chokes me up right now and I know it filled my mom with joy."

Both Carla and Jordan deserved a moment, a good one.

She has been through so much, her health making it almost impossible to travel to see Jordan play. To get to Chicago on Saturday, her friends graciously flew with her from Minnesota to make sure she was OK.

And as if his mother’s illness isn’t enough, Jordan has had to deal with his own fair share of hardship. His career has been a series of stops and starts due to serious injury -- as detailed here by my colleague Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago.

Hicks admitted the pregame ceremony left him a little shaken -- “My first pass, I think went right to the other team’s point guard," -- but then that magical thing players like to call ‘the zone’ took over and Hicks could not miss.

And when he scored, he stole some peeks at his mom along the sideline, watching her soak it all in.

“It meant the world to me," he said. “To be able to play as well as I did in front of her just shows her that her strength lives through me. Her perseverance is amazing to me. She’s my whole world. What I’ve been through is nothing compared to what she’s been fighting, so to be able to give her something, a day to remember, I can’t even describe it."

He doesn’t have to.

The moment says it all.

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