Connecticut guard Ryan Boatright (11) goes to the basket against Memphis defenders Joe Jackson (1), David Pellom, center, and Michael Dixon, Jr. (11) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)
HARTFORD, Conn. — UConn guard Ryan Boatright often wears his emotions on his face. On Thursday, they were just a bit more visible.
Boatright, from East Aurora High School, had the initials “AW” drawn on his left cheek in marker during the team’s nationally televised game against Memphis. It was a visible tribute to his cousin, 20-year-old Arin Williams, who was shot to death Monday in Boatright’s hometown of Aurora.
Williams’ mother had died in childbirth, and he and Boatright were raised as brothers in Boatright’s home.
“He called my mom, ‘mom,’” Boatright told reporters after the game.
Williams was shot to death in the bathroom of a restaurant in the Chicago suburb by two brothers who tried to rob him during what Williams thought was a drug deal, police have said.
Jaquan Hosey-Green, 19, and his 18-year-old brother, Dimitri Hosey-Green of Joliet were arrested Tuesday and charged with murder.
Boatright remembered his cousin as goofy, a guy who could make everyone around him happy. He said he got almost little or no sleep this week, but was glad he played on Thursday night.
He scored seven points, just over half his season average, and dished out four assists in UConn’s 83-73 upset of the No. 17 Tigers.
UConn hosts No. 18 Louisville on Saturday. A UConn spokesman said it wasn’t clear Friday if Boatright will play. His teammates say they will do whatever they can to support him.
“We’re his brothers,” said forward DeAndre Daniels. “If he ever needed anything, we’re here for him.”
Boatright said he appreciates that, and has a greater appreciation this week for the opportunity UConn and basketball has given him. That, he said, is another reason he drew the “AW” on his cheek.
“It was just to remind myself why I go so hard with this sport, to get my family up out of there,” he said.