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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Before Tuesday night's UCLA-Michigan game in Indianapolis for a berth in the NCAA men's basketball Final Four, one of the starting players will be introduced as being from Cedar Rapids.
He hasn't lived here since he was a seventh-grader, but that's how UCLA sophomore point guard Tyger Campbell wishes to be identified.
'Early on, when he went to UCLA,” said his father, Tony Campbell, 'we asked him where he wanted to say he was from because we've lived so many places.”
The family moved to Las Vegas from Cedar Rapids, came back, then moved to the Nashville, Tenn., area, where Tyger was a varsity basketball starter as an eighth-grader. He played his last three years of high school ball at La Lumiere School in LaPorte, Ind.
'With no hesitation, he said ‘Cedar Rapids, Iowa.' One of the main reasons why is his grandma lives there. Both of his grandmothers live in Iowa. Family was kind of his main thing, his go-to, and it's his foundation.”
'My 82-year-old mom, Patricia Krekeler, is there in Cedar Rapids and she gets to watch all his games (on television) and he talks to her after the games, and that's such a big deal,” said Tyger's mother, Jennifer Campbell.
'That's one of the big reasons he wanted to say that he was from Cedar Rapids.”
Tony Campbell was a first-team all-state basketball player at Regis High in Cedar Rapids in 1993. He then played at Luther College. Like Tyger, he is 5-foot-11.
Tyger, well-known for his distinctive hair and being named after Tiger Woods but with a twist on the spelling, was a first-team All-Pacific-12 Conference player this season. He averages 10.2 points and 5.4 assists. He is second in the Pac-12 in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio.
His steal and subsequent layup in overtime Sunday night boosted UCLA's advantage to five points on the way to an 88-78 win over Alabama in a Sweet 16 game that kept Campbell's family in Indianapolis for at least another two days.
Alex Reese hit a last-second 3-pointer for Alabama to force overtime, but the Bruins didn't buckle. Campbell made a dazzling steal and subsequent layup after a ball-fake in the first minute of overtime to extend UCLA's lead to 70-65, and away his guys went.
'We didn't get to sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning,” Jennifer said. 'We kept watching that steal.”
Reese's game-tying shot, she said, didn't phase her son. Or her family.
'My oldest son said Tyger walked back to the sideline and he had this look on his face, and he did this thing where he rubs his hands, it's kind of like a sign. He was rubbing his hands and he just looked up at us like he was going to put them on his back, he was going to make sure they won.
'We saw that and we were like ‘OK, we're going to win this, we've got this.' None of us were freaking out when we got to overtime.”
Now the 21-9 Bruins and Tyger, who sat out his first year of college competition with a torn ACL, are one win from a Final Four.
'It's surreal,” Tony Campbell said, 'but in one sense it's validation and a sense of all the years of hard work, all the years of driving to AAU tournaments and getting up early and training, and all the stuff that goes into getting to that point.
'It's kind of a validation to be on this stage. It's almost like a sigh of relief like ‘Man, it was all worth it.' Everything that you've been through, all the good and the bad, and everything that went into it, you're seeing it manifest.
'Being able to be on that stage and being able to claim Cedar Rapids, that's a big deal to him, a big deal to our family.”
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