By Jesse Newell, The Wichita Eagle, October 1, 2016
After the half-court shot dropped through the net at Late Night in the Phog — and after she accepted the $10,000 check from Kansas coach Bill Self — KU student Jordan Stiers had one person on her mind as she wiped away tears.
“I was just thinking about my Nana and what I was going to do to help her,” Stiers said. “I’ve always thought about that one question: ‘If you win so much money, what are you going to do with it?’ And she’s helped me a lot in my life, so pay it forward.”
Stiers’ “Nana” is Roxanne Edwards, her paternal grandmother who rescued her from foster care at age 10. Edwards also volunteered to raise four of Stiers’ siblings in her Independence, Mo., home.
“She took us in when things were tough,” Stiers said. “It’s been rough for her, but she’s taken care of us, so I’m going to take care of her.”
Stiers, who is the first one in her family to graduate high school and also to attend college, is a sophomore at KU and a resident assistant at Oswald Hall.
Stiers signed up for the KU giveaway by texting the word “Pay” to 97309 before Late Night. About 15 minutes later, she received a congratulations notification to say she’d been chosen as one of two contestants.
“I about peed myself,” Stiers said with a smile.
The sophomore went to Late Night a year ago with her floor at Oliver Hall, so she knew the rules well. Contestants could pick any non-player in the building to shoot the shot for them, and Topeka sophomore Jerrod Martin Castro chose KU director of basketball operations Brennan Bechard the year before, who drained his shot to win the student $10,000 from Self.
When Stiers had first pick, she knew she was going with Bechard.
“I saw he won, and I was like, ‘Double or nothing,’” Stiers said.
After missing a practice shot, Bechard’s official half-court try grazed the rim before going through the net. Stiers covered her mouth with her right hand in shock, and Bechard ran away from KU players who tackled him.
“I don’t have words. I still don’t have words,” Stiers said. “I don’t know. It was crazy.”
A few minutes later, Self made out a $10,000 check to Stiers, then gave her a hug.
She won’t keep the money for long, saying she was going to help her grandmother pay bills. She had yet to tell her Nana about the shot about 30 minutes afterward as her phone lit up with texts.
“I don’t think she’s going to believe me,” Stiers said. “This kind of thing doesn’t happen to people like us. She’s probably going to cry, just like I did.”
She pointed to her sister in the crowd after the shot went through. After that, she immediately thought back to Nana.
“She’s my mom. She’s my dad. She’s my grandma — she’s everything,” Stiers said. “She has done so much for me, taught me so much.
“There’s nothing I can do to repay her, but this will say thank you a little bit.”