When most Indiana fans think of A.J. Moye, they think of head coach Mike Davis, a block against Duke, and a 2002 Final Four run.
But Moye didn’t come to Indiana to play for Davis.
Moye arrived at IU in 2000 as part of Bob Knight’s last recruiting class.
Knight was fired in September of Moye’s freshman year before the Georgia wing ever stepped on the floor in Bloomington.
Moye left no doubt where his loyalties were in the days after Knight’s termination.
“The only person I owed something to was coach Knight and they took him away from me, so I don’t owe anyone anything,” Moye famously said at the time.
That loyalty had roots from a meeting a year earlier when Moye suffered a great loss — and then moments later met the legendary coach.
Moye shared the story of the day he met Bob Knight on his Instagram page earlier this week.
“See this picture. A million things flow through my mind. First and foremost, my mother’s smile.
All I ever wanted to do in life was to make my mother proud, and to be a respectable figure of hope and perseverance. She gave me every moment, all her resources, all her experiences, and all of her work ethic. For that, I am eternally grateful.
9/16/99, this was the day when I lost one of my closest friends in life. I remember going to a local game once, leaving my shoes at home. Trap gave me the kicks off of his feet. Sat right there and watched me hoop and was jumping, screaming the whole time. (I’m rambling) but that’s how much this cat loves, believes in me, always felt I could be/do anything anytime I was around him.
Well 5 minutes before Coach Knight shows up at my house, my mom walks in and tells me, ‘A.J., I’m so sorry … (she couldn’t even get it out) (I’m looking dumbfounded) I’m sorry but Travis heart stopped beating last night and…’
I don’t remember a word else. Only recall sobbing uncontrollably and sitting in a chair facing the corner in my bedroom, couldn’t walk, move, talk, think, nothing.. Momentarily, I had given up.
2-3 minutes later.. Coach Bobby Knight walks into my room, sits on my bed, reaches over and puts an arm on my back for 10-15 minutes, we don’t say a word.
When I finally look up he hands me a towel (see the pic) and begins asking me questions about my friend, what he meant to me, what were his dreams/goals, what we did for fun.. He asked if I want to reschedule,
Then I thought to myself, ‘Well, he doesn’t seem all that mean or self-absorbed, he seems to be a great guy, misunderstood, but then again ‘who isn’t?’ …
Long story short, he was the one coach who came in and told me, ‘I’m not promising you anything, but if you come in and play, fight the way I believe you can, you will play in multiple Final 4’s and you could possibly be a great player here at IU. And if you stay 4 years, I promise we will do all that we can do to make sure your son graduates with a IU degree in his hand.’4
Woulda loved to play for Coach.
Yet moral of the story:
LIFE GOES ON. always has, always will.”
The power of that day and subsequent conversations with Knight were still clearly on the top of Moye’s mind a year later.
“Me and Coach Knight had something special,” Moye said in 2000 after Knight was fired. “We had something more than basketball. I would have gone anywhere to play for him. The college could have been in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on a 10-foot square court, out in the middle of nowhere and I’d have played for Coach Knight.”
Moye misunderstood Knight before he met him.
But it didn’t take long for Moye to realize that there was a lot more to Knight than his public image.
Moye never played for Knight but he came to Indiana because of the legendary coach, and a memorable introduction at a vulnerable moment.
And more than twenty years later, that first meeting still resonates.
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