‘It really hurts.’ Somber State Street takes in UK’s Elite Eight defeat


William Bolden, also known as Stone Cold Willow, sits in the road on State Street after Kentucky’s Elite Eight loss against Auburn on Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky was defeated 77-71, ending Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament run. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Emily Laytham

Heartbroken UK fans laid face-down on State Street Sunday afternoon following Kentucky’s loss to Auburn.

The first to lie in the street was UK superfan William Bolden, better known around campus as Stone Cold Willow.

“That’s my signature sadness,” Bolden said of his tearful moment on the ground. “Everybody was telling Stone Cold Willow on Facebook: ‘If they lose, don’t lay on the ground and cry,’ but I couldn’t help it… It hurts. It really hurts.”

Many others on State Street “couldn’t help it,” as Bolden’s display of emotion quickly attracted a group of mourning fans that stretched a complete line across the road.

Other reactions to UK’s loss were relatively reserved, with only a single fire reported on Forest Park Road. Lexington police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said a couch was involved, but the flames were quickly put out.

A heavy police presence may have contributed to the quiet on State Street.

Several police officers lined the road in preparation before UK’s loss. Many of them cheerfully checked the score on their phones as the game entered overtime and they waited for fans to crowd the street.

The atmosphere before and after the game-ending buzzer was completely different.

Before, UK fans hooted along with the game and took pictures with the police officers.

After, scattered shouts of “March sadness” and “F*** Auburn” replaced celebration as several UK fans left. Others lingered on the streets.

“I’m sure people will still head over here,” said sophomore special education major Megan George. “Probably everyone will walk by and realize nothing’s going on.”

Some students were still optimistic about UK’s performance.

“I think people are pretty happy, honestly, because we’ve gotten pretty far,” said sophomore merchandising major Maggie Jaworowski. “But it would’ve been cool (to enter the Final Four).”

As for Bolden, the loss cuts deep.

“Stone Cold Willow won’t be seen again for a long time,” Bolden said. “For all I know, I’m probably gonna go off like Scar from the Lion King. That’s how I feel right now.”

“It sucks being a Kentucky fan sometimes,” Bolden added. “But Stone Cold’s still gonna be with the BBN.”

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