Shaka Smart is a friend, a classmate from college, and the reason I’m completely breaking shabbat tonight. I had to see his VCU take down Florida State tonight.
Shaka is exceptional in so many ways, almost all of which have been catalogued in the media during his team’s run through the NCAA Tournament this year. But there’s something that makes me love Shaka that hasn’t yet been mentioned in any national press, and that I’d like to highlight.
When Shaka and I were in college, a group of women that I was privileged to be a part of worked to change the sexual assault policy for our campus. We were galvanized by a situation that was beyond fucked up (the details of which aren’t important to this story), and we knew that, since we were working against an institution that would stick with the status quo at nearly any cost, we needed powerful allies.
Shaka stepped up to be that ally. He not only spoke out about the importance of adopting the more stringent sexual assault policies we were advocating, he required anyone who was a teammate or a fraternity brother to show up with him when he made that case, or when anyone else was making the case for the new policy. His support was invaluable when the women of his college community needed it most, and he will always be a hero in my mind for that single action.
Plus, I haven’t really watched college basketball in years upon years, and Shaka’s presence has made me tune in this year for the first time in more than a decade; for that I need to thank him, because college hoops are FUN. and HOLY SHIT, that was an awesome game tonight!! GO VCU, and go Shaka, GO!!