NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For coach Larry Joe Inman and the Lady Tigers the program is built around caring for one another, and that ideal extends far beyond the locker room.
This past weekend on the Lady Tigers trip to Southeast Missouri manager Tracey Hightower met Brad and Tammie Allen at the hotel breakfast. The three shared stories and Hightower learned that the Allen’s son Donald was a 16-year old basketball player who died recently.
Hightower then asked the coaching staff if she could give her two tickets to her new friends and coach Inman didn’t think twice.
“The compassion coach Inman and (assistant) coach Payne show myself and the team, to be able to give the same courtesy to someone else, it feels pretty good to pay it forward,” Hightower said of the gesture.
When the Allens arrived at the Show Me Center they sat right behind their new favorite team’s bench. The Lady Tigers new fans cheered the entire Ohio Valley Contest.
After the Lady Tigers downed Southeast 75-67, the Allens made sure to thank Hightower for the tickets and tell her how much they enjoyed the game.
“Her coming to that game she expressed to me that was a form of therapy for her since her son was an athlete,” said Hightower. “What it taught me is you never know how you can help someone if you never try.”
But the Allens had one more request, they wanted to meet the players behind this gesture to share their story. Once again, coach Inman and the Lady Tigers were more than happy to lend the helping hand.
In the locker room Tammie Allen shared the stories of her son with the team and thanked every member of the Lady Tigers.
“It was very cool and quite a surprise and it made the win that much better,” senior forward Alana Morris said. “It made it feel like you were doing it for somebody else.”
At the end Tammie Allen and the Lady Tigers posed for a picture with every member of the team holding up the number four.
Donald’s basketball jersey number.