It’s the moment that you hope never happens, and when it does it feels like the world just stops. One minute the sounds of yelling and cheering make it feel like the rafters are shaking and the ground beneath you is moving. The next the silence is deafening – a collective held breath as an eerie quiet replaces the electricity and all eyes turn to what no one wants to see…a player is down and he isn’t getting up.
For Ram fans this is exactly what happened on January 31, 2015 as we heard those words, “Weber’s hurt…he’s in a lot of pain.” You never want to see any student-athlete injured no matter how much you want the win. You never want it to come from a player not being present because they physically cannot compete. My heart always hurts when a player goes down, but this was personal this is my player. This is Bri and I have a replica jersey with the number 2 (one I purchased the year prior to his number adorning an official jersey). As I looked down onto the court I forgot to breathe. This isn’t really happening. This is Briante Weber. Briante always bounces back. Time Stood Still. It seemed like an eternity before they could roll him onto his back and my heart sank. His head rested in someone’s lap and his arms were extended over his head wrapped around theirs bracing against the pain. The anguish on his face as the trainers checked his knee told me everything I needed to know. When they finally got him to his feet and he was assisted off the court…a collective sigh of relief and denial were achieved. The game continued.
Weber is the enthusiasm director of VCU basketball and as such he returned on crutches knee wrapped in ice to support his team from the bench…and the denial continued. He came back out so the consensus was “it’s probably just a really bad sprain”. Of course the loss to the University of Richmond and the snap to the 12 game winning streak was the worst thing that could happen. Our cross town rival defeating us on our home court was enough torment for one day. Weber will be back on the court before we know it sliding across the floor chasing a loose ball (that he probably created) and wrapping a big black and gold bow on the NCAA steals record. The Man of Steal is invincible. He is Mr. Havoc.
Then the Tweet from VCU Athletics that rocked Ram Nation to its very core – “Official report: Senior Briante Weber has torn his ACL, MCL, and meniscus.” Social media erupted. There was an avalanche of reports from news outlets about the end of Weber’s collegiate career. Fans lamented the loss of their beloved point guard who was so close to achieving such a huge accomplishment because it was confirmation for them that their world had indeed STOPPED.
Amid all the tears and sad posts Briante Weber chimed in. His leadership has been growing this season and he helps to guide and focus the energy of the Rams. Of course he would be thinking of everyone other than himself at a time when many players would be doing the exact opposite. He reassured the fans that the world had not ended and he was still here. His message via Instagram, “Hey what’s up everybody? It’s me just coming through telling y’all I’m good. I appreciate all the love. I’m going to try to get back to you…Let’s just all pray for this bum knee.”
That statement speaks to what is the essence of Briante Weber, something that during his time on the very big and bright stage of VCU men’s basketball was merely amplified. He is over the top, but when he isn’t performing on the court; his positivity and enthusiasm are still there. He has many talents and a bum knee may keep him from finishing his season on the court, but it won’t keep him from being an active part of his team. He’s the loudest voice and it will still be heard, just from the bench. His enthusiasm is still here, his love of the game is still here, and HE is still here. His role will change, but Weber’s voice will remain loud and clear in Havoc.
Briante Weber knows how far he has come. He has a lot to celebrate from his time on the court and he isn’t done supporting his team through the rest of the season. Weber was able to play a game he loved with a team that was his second family for fans that adore him. He was able to accomplish things that many high school players only dream of and he enjoyed every minute of it. His antics on the court are captured on film in clips and highlight reels to be enjoyed for years to come. He achieved the VCU record for steals during his junior year and made it to 3rd on the NCAA list his senior year. His impact is not over.
A reminder from Dylan Thomas who said it well in poetic verse:
“Do not go gentle into that goodnight.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light”
Briante Weber has a lot of light left to share. He will find a way to continue to shine.