Family. A six-letter word that carries so much power for University of Kansas sophomore Libby Frost, whose world was turned upside down after sinking a three-point shot during Late Night and claiming a $5,000 check from coach Bill Self.
Her lifelong love for Kansas basketball though began way before last Friday night. It began in the small Kansas town of WaKeeney, where she and her father forged an early love for the sport.
But at the age of 12, Libby lost her father to a battle of cancer -- a loss that forever changed her and her mother’s life. However, Libby, a strong, humble and independent woman soon grasped onto what she had left, her mother, Lisa Frost. The start of a special bond that came as a result of a heart-breaking loss.
“We just spent a lot of time together and we traveled a lot together," Lisa said. “She was always her dad’s girl, but I guess, I was the next best thing.”
Nearly a packed house of fans filled Allen Fieldhouse last Friday night. And moments before the festivities kicked off, a message ran across the video board screen: text this phrase, to this number, for a chance to shoot a half-court shot and win $10,000.
For Libby, submitting an entry was a no-brainer. And thankfully she did because what transpired turned a dream into a reality, but it wasn’t always so clear. Libby received a text back saying she was a finalist and her friends confirmed that she asked nearly half a dozen times if she was reading the text right -- and sure enough, she did.
“I knew I wanted to get it, but probably I knew I wouldn't because you never win things like that, you know,” Libby said. “And then I got the text and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, this, this isn't real.’ And I made my friends read it and I was like, ‘I'm reading this right, right?’”
Prior to stepping foot onto James Naismith Court, Libby conversed with Self. The two talked about several topics including her love for former KU center Jeff Withey, but most notably, Self was curious to learn about Libby’s high school basketball career.
Standing at 5-foot-8, Frost started all four years on her high school varsity basketball team where she averaged around 12 points per game. And Libby noted that before she stepped onto the Kansas court, her nerves were through the roof but moments later, she was entrenched in “basketball mode.”
“I was really nervous like I could have thrown up,” Libby said. “But as soon as I stepped on the court It was like okay, basketball mode, I guess that would be a way to like describe it.”
After two missed half-court shot attempts, coach Self still felt generous and gave Frost one more shot.
“If she [Frost] makes one from the top of the key, one-shot, you each get five grand,” said Self when explaining the situation for what was the final chance to walk away victorious.
“I just didn't want to overthink it,” Libby said. “Like I knew I could make it, so I just took one shot... it just wasn't like a long thought process for me. It was just, ‘yes, I get to shoot it and I'm gonna make it and I'm gonna do it now.’ That's kind of how it went for me.”
Junior guard Christian Braun led the charge, followed by super-senior forward Mitch Lightfoot and the rest of the team as they rallied around Frost in celebration. And for the small town sophomore, tall and strong Division 1 athletes might have been the scariest thing that could have run toward her.
But for Frost, it wasn’t really about the glitz and the glamour; this shot not only put WaKeeney, Kansas on the map but proved to a lot of little girls out there that there is still hope in this world.
“It’s like a girl power moment because I think most of the time people would think like ‘oh give it to the boy, let the boy do it,’” Libby said. “But in this instance you know like I got to step up to the plate and shoot the ball, so I think like for little girls maybe that would be like kind of I would be kind of a good role model in that sense.”
“That's been really sweet like just knowing that I made my community proud,” Frost said. “That's been like one of the best parts.”
Throughout it all, everyone’s question was what will she spend the $5,000 on? And funny enough, Frost and her mother had two different responses. For Libby, it wasn’t a question, the money would return to her mother -- a non-verbal way of saying ‘thank you for everything.’ And Lisa said that brought tears to her eyes when Libby told the Kansas City Star the news last Friday.
But according to Lisa, this wasn’t the first time her daughter had said or done anything like that.
“She's always been a real, real kind girl,” Lisa said. “She will leave me a little note sometimes when I get up in the morning...and I'll get up in the morning, there'll be a little note, ‘thanks, Mom, I appreciate you.’ So it's just always kind of been the way she is.”
However, Libby is traveling to Spain soon as she explores a career in the medical field. And from the eyes of a paying parent, Lisa said the money will most likely end up coming full circle and help pay for the expenses of the trip. Although, Libby would have hoped her mother bought something for herself.
As the days of instantaneous fame come to a close, Libby reminds herself that she isn’t an on-campus celebrity. She is just a small-town girl that was given an opportunity and she is gracious for it.
“A lot of people are also like, ‘Wow, you're a celebrity,’” Libby said. “No, I just made a shot like I didn't do anything that special. It's really cool experience but I'm just, you know, a normal college girl. I didn't do anything that great, I just, I just made a three-pointer.