I tried so hard to not write a blog about Trevor, as everyone and their Grandma is talking about him. Yes, he is the player with the double-doubles, yes, he is the player they refer to as the “Beast”, and yes, he is probably the Gophers ticket from the NIT to the NCAA (hopefully, deep into it)…but I want to talk about something different, Trevor – as a person.
We were all elated when he was cleared of the felony charge that held him from playing all last season, but were people excited because they’d have him in the lineup, or because he was innocent? I am one of those that was so happy for Trevor Mbakwe, the man, and firmly believe in his innocence. The father, the boyfriend, the son – the man who sat out for an entire year for something they couldn’t even charge him with, and he did it with grace and dignity. As someone older than Trevor, I don’t know if I could have done the same. I would have been angry, upset, and very disappointed, to say the least. But not Trevor; he didn’t quit the team, he didn’t stop working out, he didn’t give up on himself, or the Gophers. What Trevor did was hold back any animosity he had, and practiced and practiced and practiced; he proved himself day in and day out to not only be a competitor, but a good person. He actually looked better than ever when he came back, physically and mentally.
I followed Trevor through his journey from his initial recruitment as a teenager, to his commitment to the Gophers, to his alleged assault, and being cleared of that. I remember officially meeting Trevor after Tubby’s Tipoff, before he committed to the Gophers. I had interviewed him and was going to take a typical headshot, and he asked to take a photo together with me. I had never, ever, had a recruit say that. I was taken aback by his modesty and took the photo with him, and insisted on his headshot after that. As a woman, I rely on instincts, and quite frankly, if I ever feel a man could ever harm me (or any woman) physically, I would run clear from them. Not only would I run clear, but I would consider them the lowest scum of the earth. Trevor could not have been further from that, for being 6’8 and 240 pounds, he has a very gentle way about him. He always greets with you a bit of a smile, a hug, and a nice conversation. Even when you tell him what others may be saying or thinking about him, he has a maturity and calmness about him, instead of an anger. I was never scared of Trevor, and on the flip side, I always believed him, and believed in him.
Do people care if he actually is innocent? I do. I would never, ever, be able to respect or defend any man that I thought was guilty of harming a woman. Not for one second, did I ever think that he was capable of that. Trevor knew that, and I told him I believed him and had his back 100%. The Trevor that I know is the one that loves his girlfriend (and I’m guessing will put a ring on it), that wants to be a role model for his son, and that will probably have back to back doubles many times this season. As a Gopher fan, I love the fact that he is talented and gifted on the basketball court. But as a person, I cherish the fact that the player, #32, that you are rooting for is a good father, man, boyfriend, friend, and a person that has a kind and gentle heart ; luckily for us, he doesn’t show that side on the court, it’s business as usual.
A special note to Trevor, I apologize for not thinking the best of you and the Gopher squad. I did doubt you, I will tell the world I didn’t think you’d beat UNC, and I was wrong. I’ll say it again – I WAS WRONG…and I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. This win was so special to me, and all Gopher fans. I was literally almost in tears – not because of an upset , but rather because of what you all have accomplished, with all odds against you. It’s the story of the little engine that could, the underdog, and the team no one believed in. You made me and many a believer, I can only sit back and watch all of the amazing things you and this Gopher team will accomplish. I am proud, and happy to call you my favorite team.