Mother’s Day 2012: Reflecting on moms of Arizona Wildcats through the yearsby Javier Morales on May. 13, 2012, under Sports
Some of the more memorable mothers of Arizona athletes that come to mind as we celebrate Mother’s Day 2012 …
Odiemae Elliott — You can tell where her son Sean Elliott — the best player to wear an Arizona uniform — got his classy ways. When interviewed on TV during Sean’s career at Arizona, Odiemae always appeared firm in her ways, yet also loving and caring — the ideal mother. In a 1999 column, after Sean’s brother Noel donated a kidney to essentially save the UA basketball legend’s life, former Tucson Citizen sports columnist Corky Simpson hit it on the head: “Sean has been a champion all along. He came by his fortitude and integrity honestly; Odiemae Elliott, his devoted mother, brought this guy up right.”
Judith Blair — The mother of former UA hoops player Joseph Blair also made an incredible sacrifice — donating a kidney to save the life of Dr. Michael Burgoon, a UA professor, in 2001. Moreover, Judith had just a casual acquaintance with Burgoon, a communications professor who served as an academic counselor to UA recruits. She found out about his deteriorating health after battling the kidney and lupus disease for 21 years while talking to Burgoon’s wife at halftime of a UA basketball game. Judith offered a kidney on the spot. “God had once restored something to me, and I thought it was only right to restore something to Michael,” Judith told Simpson in a 2002 column. She was in the midst of stellar performances in the Senior Olympics in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter runs. She continued to compete after the transplant. Her giving ways has made an impact on Joseph’s life. He is very active with charity events in the Tucson community as the executive director of the Blair Charity Group.
Virginia Bibby — While covering the Arizona basketball team during Mike Bibby’s two seasons in the program (1996-98), the presence of his mother Virginia was unmistakable. She drove to Tucson often from the Bibby home in Phoenix. She raised her son and three other children by herself. The impact on Mike’s life was obvious. Her strong will made her son psychologically strong enough to handle any challenge. “It really is amazing all the things she has done for us,” Mike told me during his freshman season in 1996-97, the year the Cats won the national title. “It’s unrealistic, really, to see my mother do so much so right And that’s one of the reasons I love her so much. She has always been there.” One fond memory of that season was the excitement of Bibby’s teammates knowing that when Virginia visited her son, she brought along a homemade meal.
Meekness LeCato — Richard Jefferson’s mother is a non-denominational Christian missionary who has taken her son and family to Africa for missionary work. She was a single mother with three young children living on welfare in Los Angeles. A 2004 New York Times article stated that her fortunes changed when she was taught in church to believe in Proverbs 18:21, the biblical verse that begins, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” She got off welfare after moving in 1986 to Phoenix with her kids. “I got a job right away in Phoenix, and every day I went to work confessing what I wanted,” she told the Times. “I was just using what God had said: ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue.’ I try to be very, very selective with my words because they’re not idle words. Words are full of life and power.” LeCato also had that memorable comment after Jefferson chose Arizona over in-state rival ASU, saying that she did not like the fact “Devils” was part of ASU’s nickname.
The common bond between these mothers: They were all single mothers at one point during their childrens’ development.
Mother’s Day Notes: Thoughts and prayers go out to UA basketball player Kevin Parrom, who lost his mother Lisa Williams last October. She passed after a two-year bout with cancer. … Abbie Britton, the mother of former UA offensive tackle Eben Britton, is a Columbia grad and journalist. She also is an entrepreneur who owns a yoga, indoor cycling and TRX studio in Jacksonville. … I apologize if I left out any other memorable moms of UA athletes through the years. If any come to your mind, please post in the comments section below. Thank you. And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. Thank you all for bringing us into this world! …