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Final Four is also a weekend of dreams and sacrifice for the parents

SAN ANTONIO – They came to see the Final Four. Maybe fidget a bit, even step in the hall when it gets tight. This is also the weekend of her dreams. The mothers, the fathers, the families.

Dawud Abdur Rahkman is here. ,

His son is Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman, one of Michigan's senior leaders. Friday was an open exercise day in the Alamodome, so what did Dawud feel as he watched his son taking his place in the distance?


"Just grateful, I know what he's done with it, I know the sacrifices that have been made, I'm just happy that everything he has sacrificed bears fruit for him. That's what he wanted.

"What I see is the same little guy who played when he was 10 years old."

Abdur Rahkman traveled to the Wolverines last month is himself a basketball man – currently a coach at Lehigh Carbon Community College near Allentown, Pennsylvania – and once his season was over, he met the Michigan Trail.

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Went to New York for the Big Ten Tournament, flew to Kansas City to save a few bucks and then drove to Wichita for the first and second rounds. " I've never seen so many cattle in my life, "said Abdur Rahjam. Flew to Los Angeles for the region. I flew to Houston for a better flight and drove to San Antonio.

Through the years as a college coach, he had several chances to go too the final four. Never done. "My position has always been, I would go to the Final Four, if I train in it, or my son plays in. And here we are, I'm here, my first time ever, any prophecy, I guess." [19659002] As a parent, he can use the lounge the NCAA has in each team hotel where families come together and feel compassion. And he can get travel grants from a relatively new NCAA program, which provides up to $ 3,000 per family for the Final Four. Another thousand if the team stays until Monday. Abdur Rahkman thinks this is a great idea, and even hopes that it will eventually be extended to other rounds.

"The future is coming," he said.

For Dawud, this weekend's basketball and memories are for the boxer-named son he admired. "I grew up watching him and adoring him, he was one of the few guys I saw differently," he said. "I think it was probably initially difficult (for his son), but as he got older, it kept him at a higher level because he knew it meant something to me, and it meant something to many others, and me think he has a conscience that says, "I have to be someone better." It helped him to be the person he is today. "

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Dawud pulled out his phone to show a picture of the AAU squad he trained years ago , Proud of the big players is a proud little kid in blue who loves to ride. His son. Later, Dawud would train Muhammad-Ali's AAU team. They were at a tournament in Washington, D.C., and it happened to be the weekend of Final Four.

"I remember we were in the north of Virginia and we were on a Holiday Express, I'll never forget that, Derrick Rose and Memphis played against Kansas, we usually had other kids with us in AAU, but that was the one time that he and I were alone, just me and he. "

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David and Anna Richardson are here. ,

Senior son Ben is one of the main characters in the Loyola Chicago fairy tale. It was a 12-hour drive from Kansas City on Thursday and they had to be on the road at 6am to get to a final four event in the evening. A long, long day. "It was worth it," David said. "It's a unique situation."

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For the Richardsons, both working in real estate, last month was a blur. A drive to Dallas for the first and second rounds. A flight to Atlanta for the region. Many days away, but parents do what they have to. "I've made every stop," David said. Fortunately, our employers are sports fans. "

You'll spend a few minutes with Ben, but understand that it will not be much. "We'll see him in the hotel for a little while, it's a breeze, and you'll see him if you can," David said. "We're here for business, it's a business trip now."

David gets nervous Saturday but probably not as much as his wife. This last victory over Tennessee in the Sweet 16, delivered at the end of a Clayton Cuter basket? Anna did not look.

"What just happened?" She asked her husband.

"We won the game."

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Loyola was on the field for the first time on Friday, so the Richardsons were there early and enjoyed where the road led. "I've trained him since he was in third grade, which is a culmination of thousands and thousands of hours of work," David said. It's hard to put into words, I walk around here, it's a dream, wake me up when that's over. "

Florence Azuonuwu from Delta, Nigeria will be here , ,

She has never seen her son Udoka Azubuike play a game for Kansas, having not even seen him face to face in nearly six years. That's a long, long time without a hug.

It took the help of a few senators, a congressman, the State Department, and one or two ambassadors to search their passport and visa. The travel grant helped them to enter a new world called San Antonio. "The NCAA passed a rule a few years ago that allowed families to get hold of events," said Coach Bill Self.

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Through the exercises and press conferences and the noise and build-up of the game, a timid son has formed eager for a reunion.

"I'm still waiting to hear from her, she's probably in an airplane," Azubuike said Friday. "That's what basketball is all about … Getting together with family and getting to know your family is the best part of it.

" I have not seen them since I was in ninth grade, so that's it a long time ago. It will be an emotional moment for me. I'm not sure how to handle it.

Neither is his coach.This is not the best time for an emotional boost from one of his key players, but it's something that had to happen.

"It will be worth it, "said Self." Can you imagine you've never seen your son play basketball before, and the first time you do it, is there 70,000 people doing this thing? I can not even imagine what goes through her mind. "

It takes a parent to appreciate this." I can only imagine the feelings she will go through, "said David Richardson.

On Alamodome Saturday, there will be four different ones Uniforms are in place, but in the four corners of the bleachers people are in some ways in the same team, parents of here and there who live a dream, look down on the yard, and see young men with little boys in

Mike Lopresti is a member of the US Basketball Hall of Fame, Ball State Journalism Hall of Fame and Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.He has covered college basketball for 43 years, including 38 final fours.He is so old that he capped Bob Knight when he did dark hair and basketball shorts were actually short.
The views on this page may not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

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