Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a powerful motivational speech to a dejected Howard University men’s basketball team following their lopsided loss to a top-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon.
The Howard alumna visited the Bison locker room at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, along with first gentleman Doug Emhoff to meet with the players and to tell them how very proud she is of them in spite of the No. 1 seed University of Kansas Jayhawks winning by more than 20 points.
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Entering the locker room while clapping for the team, she implored them to keep their heads high as they reflect on a successful season that included a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship that resulted in their automatic bid and a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“You made all us Bison so proud,” Harris told the players and coaching staff.
She said she was inspired by their will to compete until the final buzzer, something she said should give them confidence and self-gratification moving forward.
“So you keep playing with chin up and shoulders back, because you showed the world who Bison are,” Harris told the players before the 1996 Howard graduate tried to offer a moment of levity: “I was at Howard back in the day where we were just happy that there was a game, much less get to this place!”
Harris continued: “I know you may not be feeling great right now, but know who you are – you are excellence, you are hard work, you are powerful and you are winners!”
She left the locker room by offering the team and coaching staff a standing invitation to visit the White House for a tour.
“It’s amazing to know we have people of such power that are affiliated with us and supporting us at the same time,” Howard freshman forward Shy Odom told the media.
Harris’ warm reception in the locker room stood in stark contrast to the crowd’s reaction when it was announced that she was in attendance at the game, according to reports.
“When Harris was shown on the video board during the game, the boos – Kansas and Iowa are Republican-leaning states, after all – outweighed the applause,” the Guardian reported.
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