- Streeter Lecka/Getty
Villanova’s Kris Jenkins hit the shot of his life Monday night when he nailed the NCAA championship-winning 3-pointer to beat North Carolina.
Making the story even more of a fairy tale, he beat his adopted brother, Nate Britt, a guard for UNC, with the Britts and his mother, Felicia Jenkins, all in attendance.
SB Nation’s Rodger Sherman broke down the relationship between Nate and Kris, and it’s a touching one.
Nate and Kris grew up in Maryland playing for the same youth basketball teams. For a bevy of reasons – a marital separation, health problems, work – Felicia was unable to take care of Kris as well as she’d like. She asked the Britts if they would look after Kris while she took a job coaching a Division II basketball team. The Britts took in Kris and raised him through high school as he and Nate continued to play basketball together. Kris became a son to the Britts and they became parents to him, all while he maintained a close relationship with Felicia.
Nate and Kris chose separate colleges, dreaming of one day playing each other at the next level.
That, of course, happened Monday night as Villanova and UNC squared off for the NCAA Championship. For the Britts and Felicia, it could have been difficult rooting for one of their sons over the other. Instead, when Kris hit the game-winning shot, they reacted joyously.
Felicia told CBS’s Matt Norlander of her overwhelmed reaction to Kris’ shot, saying, “I grabbed [the people around her] and asked, ‘What just happened? What just happened?’ It was a moment in time. Like, still. Then you catch yourself – and you take off. And you go find somebody who can share this with you.”
She bounded down the stairs and over the press table to find her son, where they embraced:
Kris Jenkins’ mom went FLYING into Kris’ arms pic.twitter.com/dET7v4WuAk
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) April 5, 2016
- David J. Phillip/AP
Kris shared a heartwarming moment with the Britts, too.
While his teammates celebrated on the court, Kris Jenkins ran over to embrace his birth parents and the Britt family pic.twitter.com/setr5ICFe1
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) April 5, 2016
Kris said of the Britts, “The whole family, they changed my life. I owe them everything.”
According to Norlander, Nate Britt Sr., was so emotional, it was difficult to understand him after the game. Via Norlander:
Britt, Sr. can’t go on. He’s crying too hard to say anything else.
“We used to argue,” he said in a stammer. “I said, ‘Man, you got to hit this shot. You gotta get your footwork down. You gotta [unintelligible due to the crying]. It’s the only way you can be confident enough to hit it every time, and you’ve gotta believe it’s going in every time. And I sat there and told my brother beside me, after Marcus (Paige) hit that shot, I said, ‘Kris is coming down, and he’s going to answer.’ I knew it.”
As for Nate, on UNC, he was happy for Kris, though reluctant to celebrate too much. He told USA Today’s Dan Wolken:
“You could see it happening. When I saw [Kris] trailing, I knew he was getting the ball and would probably knock it down. … I’m going to be happy for him for that, but at the same time this hurt. Villanova had a great game, but for him to hit the shot, bragging rights probably for the rest of our lives. For him to close the deal like that makes it hurt a little bit more.”
“I just told him congratulations. He hit a big-time shot. He said he loved me and we’ll be back next season. Obviously right now it hurts more than anything. Both of us wanted to win this game and he came out on top. I am happy for him and happy he hit the shot to win the game, but this hurts more than anything.”
On Tuesday morning, Kris went on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” and discussed his interaction with Nate after the game.
“We talked for awhile last night, and he just let me know how proud he was of me and how happy he was that I hit the shot and not anyone else,” Kris said. “He did stress that he was upset that they lost, but that he was happy for me.”
It was a championship game that couldn’t have been any more exciting, yet the aftermath, especially for the game’s hero, has been just as enjoyable.