Just about everyone has a story about a big moment in their life when they were a child. It may be a cool story, a tough one or just a life lesson learned. But for MacKenzie Crabtree she will have a story that was shared by over 20,000 people, not counting those watching on television.
MacKenzie is the daughter of Powell County Jailer Travis Crabtree and his wife Cassie. The four year old got to do something during last week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville that some UK fans have wanted to do all their lives. Kenzie, as she is known to friends and family, not only got to meet UK players, she got to present the game ball just before UK took on Florida last week.
Right there, at center court, receiving a standing ovation – it had to be exciting for her and her family.
“It’s all she’s talked about all week,” her father said after returning home. “She said she wants to play ball so everyone will cheer for her. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that she probably won’t see a crowd like that again.”
But how did she get the honor of running onto the court, wearing a cute UK cheerleader outfit and present the game ball?
Crabtree is not sure.
“We were sitting with the UK family members and talking to Devon Booker’s mom,” Travis said. “She was sending Scott (Wells) a few videos of Booker and Kenzie was sitting in her (Veronica Booker’s) lap.”
During last year’s SEC Tournament, Crabtree and Wells met Devon Booker, then a recruit for UK. They even had a picture taken with him.
After a few minutes Veronica Booker walked down to the bench where the UK players were going to sit.
“A few minutes after Veronica came back a woman from the SEC came up to us and put a floe pass around mine and Kenzie’s neck, then said come with me,” Crabtree said. “I don’t know if Veronica had something to do with it or they (SEC officials) picked her out, but the experience was wonderful.”
So how did Kenzie and daddy take the experience?
“She loved. But when she got that standing ovation, as a father, I teared up immediately,” Travis said. “I have never been more proud of my four year old daughter. It was an awesome experience.”
With a story like this to build on, there could be a lot more proud moments to come. But for now, the Crabtree family, the Big Blue Nation and this community can be proud of a little Stanton girl who was the center of attention for a short time in what has been a historic season for UK basketball.