Kansas City native Brandon Rush told himself he wasn’t going to get emotional when he saw his No. 25 jersey unfurled in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.
He nearly couldn’t follow through on that promise.
“Before we started, I was on the bench. I was about to break a tear and stuff like that,” Rush said. “My wife (Ashlee) had to calm me down a little bit.”
Rush became the 28th KU men’s player to have his jersey retired, as the school unveiled a blue No. 25 banner next to teammate Mario Chalmers in the southwest corner of the fieldhouse.
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“Man, to look up there to see my name, my family’s name up there, it’s huge,” Rush told the fans during a four-minute halftime speech.
Rush, who is 24th on KU’s all-time scoring list, was a first-team all-Big 12 selection in each of his seasons. He also led the Jayhawks in scoring those three years.
Chalmers joined Rush in Lawrence for the ceremony, sitting with him during the game along with teammate Brady Morningstar. Rush joked that Chalmers had been talking to him about his speech for weeks.
“My heart was racing the whole time in front of 16,000 people,” Rush said, “but it was fun.”
Also attending the game were Rush’s two older brothers, JaRon and Kareem.
“They paved the way for me, just growing up, watching those two guys just go at it in the backyard — go at it non-stop — then they just tore it up on the AAU circuit, killing everybody,” Rush said. “That kind of threw a little fire in my belly that I needed to get in the gym and try to get a good as those guys.”
During his speech, Rush told the fans it felt good to be on the Allen Fieldhouse court again before calling it “the biggest day of my life.”
“To see your name go up there with all those all those legends up there, all those guys that did a lot for this university, and to see my name go up there along with one of my good friends Mario,” Rush said, “who wouldn’t be happy about that?”