Kansas basketball visits 9/11 Memorial Sunday
NEW YORK – Kansas men’s basketball toured the 9/11 Memorial Sunday, a moving and unforgettable experience for those who were barely old enough to remember to those personally connected to the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.
Just days after touring Pearl Harbor and learning about arguably the greatest tragedy of a previous generation, the players and staff spent their first full day in Manhattan learning about one of the greatest tragedies of their own generation as the team toured the memorial site and museum prior to a practice at Baruch College.
Kansas junior guard Devonte’ Graham was in the first grade when the Twin Towers were attacked and hardly remembers a first-hand account, but was moved by the experience nonetheless.
“I was talking with Josh (Jackson) earlier, I can’t really remember what I was doing that day,” Graham said reflecting outside by the 9/11 Memorial Waterfall. “Visiting today is just a real humbling experience, seeing all the pictures and displays – the tragedy that our country went through on that day.
“This sport has really shown me a lot of things and taken me a lot of places that I never thought I’d be able to see. This has been a great experience for everybody.”
Carlton Bragg walks by a photo of the smoldering World Trade Center.Kansas director of student-athlete development Fred Quartlebaum is a New York native, growing up in nearby Westchester County, and has a more direct connection to those tragic events.
“I had three, close friends that were victims of the attack – one was on the flight, one was a high school classmate and one was a college classmate,” Quartlebaum said. “Obviously it was very emotional, but to celebrate their lives and see people come out and come together as a nation, it was a great experience, not only for me, but for our guys to actually be a part of this is special.”
The museum tour took the Kansas travel party down a ramp depicting the events surrounding 9/11 before opening to a memorial room honoring victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A self-guided tour included images, audio, video and graphical depictions of pre- and post-9/11. The tour ended with notes of hope and a visit to Memorial Plaza where the team visited the waterfall and took a group photo.
“We had a chance to do Pearl Harbor, that was very humbling,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said, “but to do the 9/11 Memorial tour, I think that hit our guys because obviously it’s in their generation. It was really nice – it was sad, it was uplifting and all the things that a memorial should be. Certainly you could spend all day there and not get everything done, it was very impressive.”
Kansas has barely stopped moving since an overtime defeat to Indiana in Honolulu Friday night, barely catching their flights after dashing out of the gym, and spent most of the day Monday with trans-continental travel. But to Self and Quartlebaum the experience is more important than the rest.
“It’s part of our responsibility, to provide them educational opportunities, but it’s part of their responsibility to make the most of that and I think they did,” Self said.
Added Quartlebaum: “It’s so special, especially during the time we’re out of school. This is so important from an educational standpoint in their lives. They can share with their families and children that they experienced Pearl Harbor and now an opportunity to witness the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. This is something that has true significance and hopefully they can cherish this for many years to come.”
Kansas used the underground court at Baruch College to continue its preparations for a match-up with top-ranked Duke in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. The team will practice again Monday before a gameday shoot around and tipoff late Tuesday night.
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