Since I first attended K-State in 2008, I completely fell in love with the university as a whole. The sprawling campus felt like home from the moment I took my orientation tour that summer and I knew I was going to love living there. While it took me a while to find my purple pride, I fully embraced it from that very moment on. Being raised in a Jayhawk household, it was almost taboo to attend K-State (if only that is where my rebellious stage ended) but I’m glad I did. My time before K-State led me to various trips to Manhattan, which is where I met some of the best people, including my friend Jesse Adams.
Throughout the years I received flack from friends about being raised as a KU fan and switching allegiances to K-State, which was only to be expected from that type of heel turn. One of my favorite people in the world to talk about sports with was Jesse Adams, an avid KU, Chiefs and (brace yourselves) Yankees fan. The only time we ever agreed on a team was during football season... on Sundays and as long as KU basketball had not already started. Did it make for great banter? Of course, I can’t remember a fan more passionate about their teams quite like Jesse.
My journey into sports media was a long and winding one, and throughout the years and many life events, Jesse and I lost touch. We live in a world of social media these days and any information you want to find out about your friends you can find on a profile or a timeline, right? Jesse was an incredible father to his two little boys, had ups and downs over the last few years but fervently loved those little boys with everything. The everlasting focus of his life was his family, his love for sports and his contagious smile.
This week, Jesse’s life ended abruptly and the pain of his loss is felt heaviest among his family and loved ones. While it still seems like the news cannot be real, I am reminded of his passion for sports and how something as trivial as a ball game can mean more than that to so many fans across the nation. With an in-state rivalry like KU and K-State, households are divided and friendships are tested on game days. Jayhawk fans wave their Big 12 rings in our faces and Wildcat fans ask how football went for KU this year, yet we can all laugh at Texas losing to Kansas in football.
Being a sports fan isn’t about being better than someone else because of the team you root for, being a sports fan is about being part of a community much larger than your own. As someone with purple hair, I am questioned about why I have such royally purple locks on an almost daily basis. Depending on where I am in the country, people try to guess what sports team it is for and so on. Kansas State University is a place for family,and Jesse certainly embodied that same mentality… even with his love for the Jayhawks.
Tomorrow I will be attending the NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center and I will be wearing a brand new Charlie Hustle Clothing Co Kansas Jayhawks t-shirt in honor of Jesse’s love for them. I will be posting a photo of myself at the tournament as soon as I get done with my show on ESPN Kansas CIty and will have my purple hair and Jayhawks shirt on for the world to see. This is more of a tribute than anything else I come up with because Jesse would have absolutely lost it at the idea of one of his K-State friends cheering on the Jayhawks in his memory. Will it pain me to do so? Probably not. Will I be relentlessly questioned or mocked by peers/followers? Maybe. Hearing the story behind the shirt will help, but just know I will be doing it in memory of Jesse Adams…. A great friend, a wonderful father and a passionate sports fan.
Rest in peace, Jesse. I hope the Jayhawks win it all just for you.