Spartans Korie Lucious Shines On and Off the Court Thanks to His Girl

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We live in a world were often times perception is reality. It doesn’t make it right, but it also doesn’t change what it is. I often get asked about certain players and what I think of them. There is one MSU athlete that I am shocked to hear people ask about, and that is Korie Lucious.

 

Maybe it is the tattoos that give people an impression of what they think he is, but for this kind and mild-mannered young man, more often than not, perception isn’t reality. As he prepares for Tuesday’s game against the Badgers, the first time in his career to head back to his home state of Wisconsin, I spent some time talking to him as well as his mother Latonia Guider from her home in Franklin, Wisconsin.

 

This young man, that I have had the privilege of getting to know, is about a lot more than basketball and he gets that from his mom. Lucious is an incredible young man who can also play basketball.

 

“He’s my baby. I am so very proud of the man he is. Not basketball, I am proud of my son,” was how Latonia described him last night. Last week I asked Korie about his mother and the soft-spoken Spartan star summed it up with, “I love her, my mom is everything.”

 

To really understand Lucious you have to go off of the basketball court. Many athletes think that their talent is who they are. They aren’t able to separate themselves from the basketball player and the human, and Lucious does a fine job with that. “My mom refused to let me play basketball if I had any grade below a B. She just wouldn’t let me. She said that basketball wasn’t a sure thing, but school was and I really credit her and thank her for that. It prepared me for today,” was how Lucious described his mother’s reluctance to see her son play the game he loves.

 

“He called me recently to tell me that he had a three point. I wasn’t happy. I told him he is a straight A person. I won’t settle. I am old school. I don’t care how good you are on the basketball court,” was Latonia’s sentiments. “He does have a gift, but the best have to practice. I know he wants to make this a career, but I tell him then you have to learn to love to practice. You can’t make this a career and not love that part of it. We will see how bad he wants to make it a career by how hard he practices.” Refreshing words considering some of the attitudes parents can have towards their son’s work ethics in practice.

 

“I tell Korie all the time that we can have plans. We can have desires. Those are good, but ultimately we have to know that we don’t know what plans God has for him. He has to be prepared for God’s plan and not Korie’s,” was Latonia’s words on how she consoles her son through the rigors of the tough Big Ten life.

 

The mother and the son have a unique relationship that is certainly built on respect, but it has grown into a friendship also. On those tattoos that Korie has, “I don’t agree, but he is his own person. He has to be himself. I did tell him that he better not get any on his hands, face or neck because basketball won’t last forever and that won’t make it in the corporate world.”

 

“My mother means the world to me, she was a great example and a she is my rock,” was how Lucious described his mom. She talked about raising a talented son and said, “He is my life, I would do anything for him and I told God and begged God his whole life to take me if he had to, but protect my son.”

 

Lucious’s sweet jump shot doesn’t compare to the character of the young man. Lucious is one who takes the time to get to know the people around him and care about them. Whether it is a child who was recently at practice and he stopped to talk to, or his teammates or managers, Lucious’s heart certainly shines bigger than his pint-sized frame.

 

“Korie is a great great young man, very considerate of other people and a great teammate. You can really tell when a guy is genuine and he is. His game matches his personality of being a caring and giving guy and he is always looking for his teammates to make the play before himself,” was how assistant coach and Tom Izzo’s right hand man Mike Garland described Lucious.

 

What Garland didn’t know was those same traits were shown by Lucious a long time before he stepped foot in East Lansing. His mother told me a story of when he was the star player for the Whitefish Bay Middle School team. “In junior high he was such an unselfish player even. He would feel better after a game if he got the kid who never really played until the end the ball and he scored. He wanted those kids to feel what it was like to get the attention. He always cared about the other people.”

 

Latonia is a lot of things besides being a great mother. She is protective of Korie and has always tried to keep him away from danger. “I didn’t trust other folks, he never spent the night at other people’s houses. He didn’t ever miss a day of school unless he was traveling for school. I didn’t miss work and he wasn’t missing school. I wanted him home where I could keep an eye on him.”

 

So how did this terrific albeit protective mom let her son pick MSU rather than play closer to their Wisconsin home? “Lupe Izzo. She looked right at me and promised if he went there that she would look out and take care of him and I trusted her. She has built a family and loves those boys,” was the reason Latonia gave as to why she was content and happy with Lucious’s choice to join the Spartan Nation.

 

So, Tuesday he returns home to the Kohl Center, and how will mom feel to see her “baby” back in Wisconsin? “Thrilled! Excited! It is so exciting for all of us and so many that haven’t got to see him play in person since he left. I text him before every game to be confident and I can’t wait.”

 

When Korie packed up to move to East Lansing Latonia handed him her Bible that she kept in her purse. She told her son, “Pray every day and stay close to the Lord.” She had confidence in Coach and Lupe Izzo and the program that they run, and had faith in her son. Most of all she trusted the God she raised him to honor to keep and protect him from harm. “I know that whatever Korie achieves will be because he worked hard for it. Hard work always is rewarded. If he wants basketball to be a career then he has to work hard enough for it. So do a lot of other players. I am glad he plays basketball, but I care about school and he is a straight A kid so he better get that up from a three point.”

 

So how does Korie keep the balance in his life? “I pray every day just like my mom raised me.”

 

For many of us, being a part of the Spartan Nation has been from the moment we took our first breath. We were born into it. Others like Korie and Latonia join it later. One thing is certain; the Spartan Nation is blessed to have such a special young man in Korie representing us on and off the court and a mother who raised him right.

 

The NBA is up to Korie. His mom is right, but being a fine human being has already happened and Lucious is one of the best. Just like his “girl,” his Mother Latonia.