RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — If you’ve ever been to a VCU men’s basketball game before, you may have noticed one player’s shiny gold shoes and thought, ‘he just wants some attention.’
But look closer at his flashy footwear and you’ll see the story of a local VCU walk-on and the unlikely friendship he formed with two Rams super fans.
“I feel like I’m just the gel or the glue to the team,” VCU junior guard Torey Burston told 8Sports Director Mitch Carr.
The Trinity Episcopal graduate probably sticks out amongst his teammates for what he lacks physically.
“It’s the heart that counts,” Burston explained. “I’m real big on heart over height.”
“I’m bigger than (VCU starting center) Mo (Alie-Cox), really.”
And his shoe game is on point, as the kids say.
“One day I was just on Google and I typed in gold Kobe’s, and these were the first ones that popped up,” he said, pointing to his fly gold kicks. “From that point I just said, ‘oh, I gotta have them.”
Burston likes the color and the pattern, but it’s the decorations he added himself that he loves the most.
“Gene and Honey Hunt, they mean a lot to me,” he said.
Dr. Gene Hunt graduated from VCU before it was even VCU and went on teach at the school for decades. Hunt and his wife, Rosalia – better known as “Miss Honey” – were VCU super fans.
“I never went anywhere with Gene, at any athletic event, where former students didn’t come up to him and thank for him the work he did when he was a professor,” said Gordon McDougall, VCU’s Associate VP for Alumni Relations.
Everyone knew Dr. Gene and Miss Honey, including Burston, who met the Hunts when his uncle introduced him before he’d even enrolled at VCU.
“Just from that day, they were like my grandparents,” Burston said.
The redshirt junior guard says he visited the Hunts once a week. Sometimes he brought in their mail. Sometimes they just talked. And the Hunts were at every basketball game.
“They were at every game. They sat in the same seats,” Burston said. “Before every game I would find them in the crowd and look up and blow a kiss to Miss Honey. They were just nice to everybody. You could tell they were loved by everybody because before games started people would come down and give them hugs and kisses and just greet them. They were definitely number one.”
Dr. Hunt passed away in December 2014 from heart and lung complications. Miss Honey died just a few months later following a fall at home.
“It hurt,” Burston recalled.
This season, the first under new coach Will Wade, Burston says he’s played more already than in his two previous years under Shaka Smart combined.
“He’s a great kid,” Wade said of Burston. “He’s got some physical limitations, but he doesn’t let that stop him. He’s got a great attitude, he’s like a little pitbull when he’s out there. I love him.”
And Gene and Honey are right there with him. Every step of the way.
“I just wanted to take them wherever I go,” Burston said. “I just figured with the names on the shoe I could look down whenever and see their names and know that they’re OK.”
McDougall added, “the fact that he is keeping their memory alive and connected with his university would make them very happy.”
And Burston plans on carrying their memory as long possible.
“Just want to keep going, keep plugging for Dr. Hunt and Miss Honey,” Burston said. “They’re in my heart forever and I’ll keep going for them.”