By creator to allsportstucson.com
The honor of playing high school basketball in Tucson 36 years after her famous uncle Sean Elliott competed in his last game with Cholla is not lost on Pusch Ridge Christian Academy sophomore Vienna Elliott.
“It does put a little pressure on me some times,” Vienna said, “but it is sometimes a good pressure, like me wanting to live up to the expectations.”
Sean is the top local athlete in history who went on to a storied career at Arizona and worldwide fame in the NBA with his well-documented need of a kidney transplant in 1999 while with the San Antonio Spurs.
His brother Noel was fortunately found to be a good match for a kidney and he donated one of his as a life-saving gift. After a successful operation on Aug. 16, 1999, Sean returned the Spurs the following season, becoming the first professional athlete to continue his playing career following a transplant.
Noel and wife Kathy have parented three kids now into high school athletics. Their children have all attended Pusch Ridge.
Their oldest, Lucas, is a redshirt freshman forward at Biola University, an NCAA Division II program in La Mirada, Calif.
Oldest daughter Geneva recently completed her volleyball career at Pusch Ridge and has committed to play at Division I program Abilene Christian, which is only 245 miles from Sean’s home in San Antonio.
Vienna plays volleyball and basketball for the Lions as a 6-foot-1 sophomore.
“She does not have a favorite of the two sports; it all depends really what season she is in,” said Kathy, who is the communications and marketing director at Pusch Ridge.
Noel is in his third year as a truck driver after being active in the home inspecting business in Tucson since 2003.
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) November 25, 2020
Noel and Kathy attended Saturday’s recreation at Pusch Ridge, when the youthful Lions misplaced 44-17 to Present Low. Vienna didn’t take it as simply one other loss. She was one of many final to emerge from the locker room, virtually a half-hour after the sport ended.
“She takes after Sean with that,” Noel mentioned. “He was all the time one of many final to depart.”
Kathy added, “She asks questions and desires to resolve why this or that occurred. She’s distinctive in that side.”
The apple doesn’t fall too removed from the tree so far as that’s involved. Kathy, who’s 6-foot-3, is a former standout Iowa highschool participant who averaged virtually 30 factors a recreation and went on to star at Nebraska-Omaha from 1985-89, the identical years Sean grew to become Arizona’s biggest below Lute Olson.
When Lucas was about to enter his sophomore season at Pusch Ridge in the summertime of 2016, he performed in an AAU event at Las Vegas. He was a slender and uncooked expertise who was beginning to garner recruiting consideration from faculty coaches due to his potential and his final identify.
“I’ve been round basketball all of my life,” Lucas instructed me in his first media interview that yr. “I began enjoying within the seventh grade however didn’t actually change into aggressive in it till final yr within the ninth grade.
“(Sean) has performed a giant half in my growth to date. I discuss to him quite a bit on the cellphone. … He simply tells me he needs me to benefit from the recreation. He tells me that’s the important thing to unlocking your potential. In the event you’re not having enjoyable, you’re not going to play to your potential.”
Vienna is nearly at that very same stage now embarking on her sophomore season.
She gave her first media interview on Saturday, and very like Noel, she was a pure expressing herself.
As I wrote about Lucas 5 years in the past, it’s apparent Noel and Kathy are elevating their kids with the values of Noel’s mother Odimae Elliott, who was identified in Tucson as being a noble, hard-working, respectful and caring particular person. She embodied that do-what-it-takes mantra that impacted her household.
Vienna mentioned of her sturdy household relationships, together with her older siblings, “It’s crucial; I really feel like it’s a assist to all the time have folks I do know I can go to who know greater than me and will help me develop as an athlete.”
That features her interactions with Sean, who connects together with his nieces and nephews as a lot as he can. Sean’s personal kids have progressed to success, together with daughter Jordyn Elliott, who accomplished her soccer profession at Cal-Berkeley final season and earned her diploma in Enterprise Administration with a minor in African-American research.
Sean has stayed principally in quarantine in San Antonio for the reason that COVID-19 outbreak final March due to the well being dangers from his kidney situation. That precludes him from seeing his household in particular person.
Vienna final noticed Sean in San Antonio two years in the past when he and Noel celebrated the 20th anniversary of the kidney transplant.
“He did like a basketball camp with me and my brother and a few different children he is aware of who lives within the space,” Vienna mentioned. “That was enjoyable. I bought to study expertise, like publish strikes and ball-handling.”
Noel and Kathy waited patiently for Vienna to emerge from the locker room after the loss Saturday. Following a 27-point defeat, they didn’t know what to anticipate.
Vienna, who can be a part of the Arizona Premier Volleyball Membership, didn’t take a look of despair or frustration as she approached them. As an alternative, she had that look her uncle Sean all the time displayed, certainly one of refined confidence and willpower.
She smiled when Noel gave her a hug. Because the kidney transplant saga indicated with Noel and his brother, no scenario is simply too tough to maintain this household from wanting forward.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writer, author and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Membership award winner. He’s a former Arizona Each day Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball group, together with when the Wildcats gained the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has additionally written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports activities, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting Information and Baseball America, amongst many different publications. He has additionally authored the guide “The Highest Form of Living”, which is out there at Amazon.
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