BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio — Some people consider one trip to the NCAA Final Four a bucket list item, but how about 22 trips to the Final Four? That’s the case for Ruth Brown from Broadview Heights.
It all began in 1989 as a family vacation in Seattle for Brown and her family.
“At that point in time they would send away for lottery tickets and then you get the letter, sorry you didn’t get it or whatever, and this time we got the lottery,” said Brown.
From then on this 76-year-old woman was hooked.
“Our kids always encouraged us to go and it was a family thing. If they could join us they would; so that was like our family reunion each year,” Brown said.
Now in 2015, Brown has seen more basketball then she could imagine: She’s attended 22 Final Fours across the country.
“Seattle, two times, Indianapolis four times, San Antonio two times, New Orleans three times. We went to Detroit, Michigan when they won it, St. Louis when they won it,” said Brown.
‘They’ Brown mentioned is the North Carolina Tar Heels, Brown’s favorite team. She was born in Northeast Ohio but thanks to a certain UNC player, she’s been a fan ever since.
“Phil Ford was a tremendous guard for UNC and he started watching him on TV and then we started watching him and that was in the 70s and we really started liking UNC then,” Brown said.
So it’s no surprise after watching more than 40 or so Final Four games or practices over the years, only one moment could stand out above the rest: the 1993 title game when UNC won it all.
“Being there was just a dream come true and we would have never gone to New Orleans on our own,” said Brown, who has logged over 11,000 miles in 22 years.
She will not travel to this year’s Final Four in Indianapolis but she is attending the Sweet Sixteen and Elite 8 games in Cleveland this year. She hopes to continue her streak of Final Fours next year and beyond.
“As long as I’m alive and I can function and get there, we’ll do some of these things,” Brown said.
Brown did fill out an NCAA bracket this year and as you can imagine picked UNC to win it all. The Tar Heels were beaten by the Wisconsin Badgers Thursday night despite leading for most of the game.