When Gorgui Dieng's parents traveled from Senegal to Louisville this week to see their son play on U.S. soil for the first time, they probably didn't realize their visit would receive so much attention.
Not only did CBS TV cameras repeatedly pan to them in their seats in the lower bowl, they also received cheers from the Louisville crowd after they appeared on the Yum! Center video board at the start of the second half.
Momar Dieng and Seynabou Diagne didn't have to wait long to get their first taste of how much the Louisville crowd appreciates their son either.
Forty-five seconds into Louisville's 80-77 victory over rival Kentucky, Dieng received a long, loud standing ovation when he checked into the game for the first time since fracturing his wrist last month. The Louisville crowd also cheered wildly for Dieng in the opening minutes of the game when he swatted away an Alex Poythress shot and delivered a two-handed put-back dunk.
Unfortunately for Dieng, he didn't play as much as he might have liked. Two quick fouls forced him to sit for the final 12 minutes of the first half and foul trouble continued to plague him the entirety of the second half, leading to him finishing with just six points and seven rebounds and two blocks.
It's a shame Dieng didn't have one of his best performances in front of his parents because it required a lot of work getting them here.
Proctorville, Ohio, residents Scott and Lesley Thomas, Dieng's host family while he played high school basketball at Huntington Prep, purchased plane tickets for the 6-foot-11 big man's parents and spent five months working on the logistics of obtaining their visas. Dieng's parents arrived Christmas Eve in Louisville and will stay for about two weeks.
Not surprisingly, it didn't seem to bother Dieng's parents that he didn't have one of his best games. They tried on Louisville hats before the game and clapped for their son when he scored a basket. Maybe they didn't understand everything about the game they were watching, but they no doubt were appreciative of being there.