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Blue Since Birth: How I became a fan of the Kentucky Wildcats

How I came to say “Go Big Blue.”

NCAA Basketball: Preseason-Kentucky State at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the refreshed A Sea Of Blue! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to do the same, head over to the FanPosts section to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well.

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Not all sports fans were fans of their favorite teams from a young age. In fact, in today’s digital world where you can follow any team in any sport in any part of the world, a lot of people become become fans later on in life (of teams that are nowhere near them). It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the connected world we live in.

But when it comes to my favorite collegiate athletic program, I was quite literally a fan from birth.

I was born Mar. 18, 1998, in Louisville, KY. The same year the Comeback Cats won a National Title. My parents claim that the tournament was on in the delivery room, and my father wouldn’t turn it off. Four days after I was born, the No. 2 seed Kentucky Wildcats, coached by Tubby Smith and led by Jeff Sheppard, upset the No. 1 seed Duke Blue Devils, 86-84, overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit.

Of course, I don’t remember exactly what happened when I was four days old. But I do know for a fact that my family was ecstatic, and that I was a fan for life from that point on.

Fast-forward a whopping 10 days from my birth, and the Cats are beating the No. 3 seed Stanford Cardinal, 86-85 in OT. Sheppard leads the way with 27 points, six boards and four dimes. At 10 days old, my favorite college team has secured its spot in a National Championship.

And at 12 days old, they won that National Championship.

The Wildcats beat the No. 3 seed Utah Utes, 78-69. They secured their seventh national title (Tubby’s first and only), and yet another Kentucky-bred fan from birth.

And I remained a fan through all the turbulence that followed that ‘98 title run. Granted, for a certain portion of that time I really had no idea what was going on on that television screen, but I watched. And even when I knew what basketball was, I supported Kentucky.

Even when Tubby failed to reach the Final Four after that ‘98 season.

Even when Gillispie’s best result was a first round exit from the NCAA Tournament, causing him to be fired after just two seasons (and an 18-minute meeting with Lee Todd, Jr. and Mitch Barnhart).

Even when John Calipari’s 2013 team was bounced in the first round of the NIT.

Through thick and thin I’ve loved Kentucky basketball. And it’s made the improbable Final Four runs in 2011 and 2014, the National Championship in 2012 and the 38-win team in 2015 so much more worth it as a fan.

And it’s fair to point out I’ve always been behind Kentucky football, too.

Even when they lost to the LSU Tigers on a miracle hail mary after having already dumped the Gatorade bucket on head coach Rich Brooks.

Even when the 2014 Cats started 5-1, just to lose six straight and finish one win short of bowl eligibility.

Despite moments like that, Kentucky football still gives us moments like last year, when the Cats upset the Louisville Cardinals 41-38, finishing 7-5 and reaching their first bowl game since 2010. And again, it becomes so worth the heartbreak of watching them collapse (especially when Mark Stoops is putting up recruiting classes near the top 25 with relative consistency).

It’s been surreal to follow Kentucky’s programs, from Jeff Sheppard to Anthony Davis, and from Tim Couch to Randall Cobb. And now to get to attend games, interview players and see it all up-close as a member of A Sea of Blue and the SB Nation network makes it that much more enjoyable to be a member of BBN.

(I’d like to thank my mother for digging through 100 photo albums to find this).

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