A Tennessee teenager got the biggest half time inspiration he could imagine on Friday when his mother, who had been serving a tour of duty in Iraq, walked on to the court to see him for the first time since she was deployed in January 2011.
As first reported by the Nashville Tennessean, the emotional scene played out at a heated rivalry boys basketball game between Ensworth (Tenn.) High and Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell Academy. Karmani Hodges, a talented sophomore contributor for MBA, was sitting on his team's bench when his mother, Carmella Hodges, slipped on to the court from behind a door and snuck over to the team's bench to give him a big hug.
The elder Hodges was still in full camouflage uniform upon her arrival, having driven directly to the game from Nashville International Airport, where she arrived from Arkansas. Hodges had been concluding her year-long military duty with the U.S. Army National Guard at a base in Arkansas.
"Oh, I was really surprised," Kamani told the Tennessean's Chip Cirillo. "I haven't talked to her in about four months prior to this. I Facebooked her when she was in Arkansas, coming back from Kuwait about two months ago. She told me she was coming really soon, but she never gave me the specific date. And to show up at my basketball game, especially at halftime at this big game -- it was emotional.
"I'm not an emotional guy. I don't cry that much, but she made me shed a tear or two."
The Hodges family reunion, which bore a striking similarity to a number of almost made-for-TV family reunions just before Christmas, clearly played well with a bi-partisan crowd, with the Hodges hug reportedly drawing rapturous cheers from fans at the high school gym.
Unfortunately for Kamani Hodges and his teammates, the arrival fell just short of inspiring a victory, with Ensworth holding on for a 75-66 victory against its rival, despite the younger Hodges' nine points.
Still, something tells Prep Rally that final score did little to dim the enthusiasm at the Hodges' household later that evening.