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Fan appreciated great season

I write to express my gratitude to the University of Illinois men’s basketball team, coaching staff and administration. They provided a welcome respite from some of the inconveniences and concerns with the pandemic.

Because Illini Nation was so involved, we also feel the sadness of the tournament loss to Loyola and sorrow that they didn’t accomplish all their goals this year. But they accomplished so much.

UI fans continue to be very proud of them and thankful that, in the midst of a year with many obstacles, they displayed a positive, fun vibe that lifted their fans.

Their successes included winning the Big Ten’s postseason tournament title and finishing the regular season ranked No. 2 in the nation.

The pandemic heightened racial injustice and polarizing ideas about immigrants (and most everything else) and created huge challenges.

They lived beyond all of that as a close-knit group. The team is a melting pot that has embraced one another with love — a great model for us all.

I was a freshman at the University of Illinois in 1968 when Martin Luther King was shot and killed. As students, we so looked forward to change and wondered how we could make a difference in racial inequity.

We have made a dent in the inequities, but sadly, not enough. The players, coaches and administrators all have spurred me on to want to do more. They are my heroes and role models — even though a couple generations separate us.

Thanks for being great men and a great team.

JEANENE STEPHENS

Champaign

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