It was loud. Fans were packed in so tightly no one could move. Only an aisle was stretched down the middle, left there so the Loyola’s men’s basketball team could walk through. Leading all of the excitement: Donald Ingram — former Rambler Donte Ingram’s dad.
Ingram was at the center of the Final Four excitement last year, never missing a tournament game and becoming the driving force of each pep rally and send-off held for the team.
While his dad was instrumental in the hype surrounding the fans, Donte was a key player to the Final Four roster. He made integral plays in the tournament, such as hitting a last-second-three-pointer to win against University of Miami in the first round of the March Madness.
Despite his son graduating, Ingram’s still in the middle of all the excitement. Before the team walked through, he was leading chants, high-fiving all the fans and even dancing with Loyola president Jo Ann Rooney.
“Loyola is family,” Ingram told the Phoenix. “I love everyone. Me and my family are supporters for life. We in this for the rest of our lives.”
Loyola head coach Porter Moser spoke in front of the pep rally preceding the semifinal matchup against Bradley March 9. He said Nike sent out warm-up jerseys to every Nike endorsed program with the word “family” on it. Moser said nothing embodied that better than all the support they’ve been given this year.
“When I look around and I see all of you sitting here rooting us on,” Moser said. “When I look around and see family and friends, when I look around and I see [Lu Wolf], when I look around and see administrators, dance teams, cheerleaders, the band, when I see parents [of] players and former players’ parents absolutely nothing epitomizes family more than Loyola.”
Ingram said Donte told him he had to go to the tournament March 7-10. Donte told his mom and Ingram they had to go and lead the team to victory because he was stuck working with the Legends. Ingram said “will do” and went to the quarterfinal and semifinal matchups.
“We’re not new to this,” Ingram said. “[We’re] down here to come support the players, the families, alumni, everyone.”
As the players walked through the masses of fans, redshirt senior guard Marques Townes stopped and gave Ingram a hug. Ingram likened Townes to being another son.
“Family. This is what we do,” Ingram said. “There’s no other place I’d rather be.”