One of the best moments of BYU’s win over Texas was when the Cougars honored former star Shawn Bradley
Coach Mark Pope relayed a poignant story about becoming acquainted with the former BYU star through a letter
From the way BYU won by shelving its 3-point loving style to attacking the paint with reckless abandon to the return of Fousseyni Traore into a more significant role and the “Horns Down” T-shirt controversy, BYU’s 84-72 win over Texas on Saturday afternoon didn’t lack storylines.
Somewhat lost in the day’s events, however, was a visit by former BYU basketball star Shawn Bradley, who watched the game courtside from his wheelchair and was recognized during the first half.
Bradley’s introduction via the big screen that hangs above the court drew a loud and lengthy round of applause from the Marriott Center crowd.
“I just randomly get this letter in the mail from a star who was coming back to be the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. And it was a seven-page letter. I read it and re-read it. It just had so much meaning to me. Just the fact that he would reach out. It actually is super, it is in my heart.” — BYU coach Mark Pope
Bradley later said the tribute brought tears to his eyes.
After the game that moved BYU’s record to 3-4 in Big 12 play, 15-5 overall, coach Mark Pope relayed a poignant story about receiving a letter from Bradley when Pope was a freshman at the University of Washington, “living in the Northwest in absolute anonymity trying to find my way through this game.”
Pope said Bradley, who was paralyzed in January of 2021 in a bicycle accident in St. George, has always been “super special” to him since he was also a highly recruited post player in high school.
It was Bradley’s first appearance at a BYU game since the life-changing accident.
“I just randomly get this letter in the mail from a star who was coming back to be the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, and it was a seven-page letter,” Pope said.
“I read it and re-read it. It just had so much meaning to me. Just the fact that he would reach out. It actually is super, it is in my heart.”
Pope said he spoke to Bradley after Saturday’s game and learned that Bradley had received a similar letter when he was younger from BYU legend Danny Ainge, now an executive with the Utah Jazz.
Pope said the BYU players at the postgame news conference — seniors Jaxson Robinson and Noah Waterman, who had combined for 34 points in the win — will have the opportunity to make similar gestures in the future as part of the BYU basketball fraternity.
“Getting that letter from Shawn and reading it over and over, and it meant so much to me. That is pretty cool, man,” Pope said. “This legacy of BYU guys is pretty important, and it is pretty special to watch.”
Former BYU players such as Jimmer Fredette, Jake Toolson, Tyler Haws and T.J. Haws have attended recent BYU games and been featured on the big screen in BYU’s first season in the Big 12.
The 7-foot-6 Bradley played one season at BYU upon graduating from central Utah’s Emery High School, and averaged 14.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.2 blocks per game during the 1990-91 season before going on a mission to Australia for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Cougars on the air
No. 21 BYU (3-4, 15-5)
at West Virginia (2-5, 7-13)
Saturday, 4 p.m. MST
WVU Coliseum, Morgantown
Radio: 102.7 FM/1160 AM
He was the second overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and also played for the New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks. He retired in 2005 and returned to live in Utah.
After the win, Waterman praised the sellout crowd of 17,978 for helping the Cougars pull out the win.
BYU remained at No. 5 in the NET rankings and No. 9 in Kenpom.com after its third Big 12 win.
“Today was a good team win. We went out there, played our hearts out for our fans, in front of our fans. Really emphasized the defensive end. … And I think we executed really well,” Waterman said. “So overall it was a great team win.”
With a really great moment honoring Bradley mixed in.