It was a dream for J’den Cox — to stand at the heart of Columbia’s biggest marvel, to hold a microphone and to sing the national anthem — but also a dream scenario for the city that’s raised him.
On Saturday night, before the Missouri football game against Georgia, the MU senior wrestler, Olympic bronze medalist and Columbia native who has accomplished so many dreams over the year, completed another as he sang America’s song with ease in front of thousands dressed in black and gold.
“Out of most things I’ve done, (singing that) was actually probably one of the easiest,” Cox said afterward. “It was a lot of fun for me. I was enjoying myself. It got a little messy at the ending, but overall, I’d probably give myself an eight or nine out of ten. It was good.”
His mother, Cathy Cox, knew it would be. She said Saturday morning, “he’s going to kill it.”
Initially, J’den had asked the Missouri marketing department to allow him and his mom to sing the anthem, but it didn’t work out. Even still, Cathy said she was proud.
“(This) is something that is usually reserved Marching Mizzou or for really, really special people,” Cathy said, “so, for him to be asked to do it, it is really exciting and really an honor because there’s nothing like it in the world.”
Since returning from Brazil just weeks ago, the spotlight has been on Cox. And there was one on him Saturday night as he faced the red, white and blue flag waving high above the north end zone.
Like the attention, which he said he feels comfortable with, there was a sense of comfort while performing.
And as the twinkle in his eyes subsided, Cox called the experience “a nice reminder.” A reminder of what he’s done, a reminder of where he’s from and a reminder of how much he loves the University of Missouri.
“Sometimes I forget and it’s like, oh, I’m a bronze medalist,” Cox said. “I’ve gotten to experience something that a lot of people haven’t gotten to experience, so it’s my obligation to share that with everybody. To come out here and do that in a way, it was awesome.”