TSU's Rhett Receives Surprise from Mom
Friday, November 25, 2011
TSU's Rhett Receives Surprise from Mom
Tennessee State University's freshman men's basketball player M.J. Rhett was surprised by his mother just before TSU's game at No. 1 North Carolina on Tuesday. Sgt. Stephanie Rhett returned from Iraq just in time to watch her son play against the top-ranked Tar Heels.

Below is the Associated Press Story along with video of the emotional reunion.

CHAPEL HILL  - M.J. Rhett knew playing at top-ranked North Carolina would be memorable enough. Then came something even more unforgettable: his mother walking into the locker room before tipoff in a surprise trip home from Iraq.

Rhett's reunion with his mother offered an emotional pregame scene for the Tigers before their 102-69 loss to the Tar Heels on Tuesday night. Stephanie Rhett is an Army National Guard sergeant who had been serving in Iraq since September, but she returned to the United States earlier in the day and tearfully greeted her 19-year-old son with a big hug.

"I didn't have no idea at all," said M.J. Rhett, who is from Hopkins, S.C. "I just saw her face and I was in shock."

Video of the reunion was played on the Smith Center boards at halftime, drawing a standing ovation from the UNC crowd. Stephanie Rhett sat two rows behind the Tennessee State bench, marking the first time she had seen her son - a 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman - play a college basketball game. Rhett had two points and five rebounds in 17 minutes.

Stephanie Rhett said she'll have to return to Iraq in two weeks, though that will allow her to spend Thanksgiving with family.

"That was unbelievable," Tennessee State coach John Cooper said. "I actually found out this afternoon, so he didn't know. That's a special moment for our group and for the whole team to see that. As I told the team before, we all have something to be thankful for, so obviously that was much bigger than basketball."