Kentucky players celebrate after an NCAA Midwest Regional final college basketball tournament game against Michigan Sunday, March 30, 2014, in Indianapolis. Kentucky won 75-72 to advance to the Final Four.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)Kentucky players celebrate after an NCAA Midwest Regional final college basketball tournament game against Michigan Sunday, March 30, 2014, in Indianapolis. Kentucky won 75-72 to advance to the Final Four.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
In the annals of Kentucky basketball lore, Sunday's Elite Eight showdown with Michigan will surely rank high on the list of finest games. But the mother of one of the game's key figures didn't get to see how it turned out ... because she had to get back to work.
Carolyn Kyles, mother of Kentucky beast Julius Randle, had to leave near halftime with the 'Cats down 4. According to observers at the scene, she was in tears at the thought of missing the rest of the game.
Julius Randle's mom had to leave at halftime so she could return to Texas and go to work tomorrow. Randle: "I'm coming home to my mom."
— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) March 30, 2014
Randle, a Dallas native, kept Kentucky in the game with 16 points and 11 rebounds en route to being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Region. He's a freshman, he may not be long for Lexington, but he's made an outsized impact in his days at Kentucky so far. And he's happy to give most of the credit to his mother.
Kyles, at 6' 2", was Randle's toughest opponent growing up. A single mother and a former basketball player at Texas-Arlington, Kyles taught Randle that nothing on the hardwood comes easy.
"I would push him around. He'd fall down and hop up all mad. I'd throw hook shots on him, and it would just kill him," Kyles told USA Today. "I couldn't feel guilty, because this was the position I was in. I had to be both mother and father. I couldn't be weak. I had to be strong. I couldn't baby him. I had to make sure my kids were strong, show them how to get out there and fight for what they wanted. That's what they saw in me every day."
Kyles now has a chance to see Randle once more this season in person as the Wildcats prepare to meet Wisconsin in North Texas on Saturday. And if Randle proceeds through the basketball ranks as expected, Kyles might not have to be worried about returning to work anywhere much longer.