For well over a minute, the crowd, listed as 5,062, stood as one to give him a rousing ovation.
It was more than just the team and the fans.
Sportswriter Phil Kasiecki tweeted, “It’s wonderful to see all on press row standing and applauding Dick Kelley. You’re not supposed to cheer on press row, but this isn’t about a game.”
His family — parents Ed and Anne Kelley of Andover and brothers Ted (a former BC basketball captain) and Patrick — has been extraordinarily devoted to him. Ted, at times, has come back from business trips to China or Australia and immediately headed over to his brother’s apartment down the street from the BC campus.
As Kelley has waged his fight against ALS, the BC community has been inspired by his quiet dignity.
Donahue and legendary hockey coach Jerry York have been there for him since he received the dreaded diagnosis of ALS about 18 months ago. His “second family,” his colleagues in the BC sports information department, also always are there for the former Andover High (Class of 1983) basketball player.
Rahon recalled how Kelley befriended the young players, inviting them to his apartment shortly after they reported in early summer as scared freshmen.
“He’s just a great role model and mentor,” said Rahon, a San Diego native.
The common thread from the media to the bigtime athletes and the nonscholarship athletes is Kelley’s love for BC and its athletes.
Donahue, at one point fighting back tears in the postgame press conference, called Kelley a “very unique guy.”
He continued, “It’s hard not to get emotional about him.”
When yesterday’s game seemed like a lost cause, that yet another tough loss was in the offing, the team drew upon Kelley’s strength.
“If you are going to go down, go down fighting in his honor,” said the third-year BC coach. “It’s an incredibly tough thing to watch. It’s amazing how he handles it.”
Kelley felt blessed after the big win and outpouring of affection.
He tweeted after the game, “Humbled to receive USBWA award in front of family, so many great friends and an incredibly supportive Conte Forum crowd.”
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.