CHICAGO (WCIA) — The familiar sound of the ‘L’ fills the cold Chicago air on a calm Tuesday night in the South Loop. But the cheers from the Dosunmu family ring for all to hear.
“We cheer, we jump, we scream, we do it all,” Quam Dosunmu said.
This is is the new normal for the family of Illinois’ best player. Ayo’s biggest fans have watched every game together this season from the comfort of their couch. They’d rather be cheering from State Farm Center or any opposing arena on the Illini’s schedule across the country, but COVID-19 has kept them in the Windy City. It’s a big change for Ayo’s parents Quam and Jamarra, who never missed a game, traveling everywhere from Hawaii to Italy to see their son play.
“The same crew that goes to the games to watch it live, we just watch it together in the house,” Quam Dosunmu added.
The weekly family reunion of sorts can be as big as nine, ten or even more people. It was weird at first but has become the new normal.
“Everybody is here, everybody has a spot, we’re all in our prospective places and we kind of flow from there,” Jamarra Dosunmu said.
And when the Dosunmus get together, it’s never quiet. They bring the energy and excitement to their game day experience, just like they are watching the game in person. They feel the highs and lows of a game the same way they would at their courtside seats in Champaign. Even though they can’t be there to cheer Ayo on in person, the preseason All-American says he still feels their presence from afar.
“That’s my motivation, just trying to make them proud each and every day,” Ayo Dosunmu said. “My mom and dad they’ve supported me so much throughout my whole life. They’re still with me in spirit, knowing that they’re still there together, cheering me on, they’re there with me, motivating me.”
And that includes some tough love, especially when it comes to making free throws. Ayo says he could always hear his mom in the arena after a miss. Jamarra still lets him know about it watching on TV.
“Ahhh, make your damn free throws,” she shouted after Ayo missed one in Tuesday night’s win over Northwestern.
Jamarra has talked to the neighbors in the complex they live in, they’re well aware when a game is going on. With several 8 p.m. tips this season, the party goes well into the night. And that’s the time Ayo always shines bright.
The Dosunmu family erupted after Ayo made two 3s in the final 90 seconds against the Wildcats, securing Illinois’ season high sixth-straight win. After watching the postgame press conference on Big Ten Network, filming a celebratory TikTok that’s become popular after wins, the only thing left is a FaceTime with Ayo. It’s all part of a routine that will end at the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, when the family will finally get to watch the Illini play in person for the first time this season, on the biggest stage yet.
“I know that’s what we’ve played for for the last three years,” Jamarra said. “That’s what this is all for and I’m just anticipating it.”