‘UK Band Guy’ reflects on the 24 hours after his moment of fame

Hayden Hooper stands with his brother Holden (left), his grandfather, his nana, his mom and dad. 

I am Hayden Hooper.

I am a UK journalism student, and an opinions editor for the Kentucky Kernel.

Now, thanks to Twitter and the UK versus Davidson game, I am a meme.

I am “UK Band Guy.”

I have been a UK fan for a long time before my one shining moment on TV. My grandfather Ken Riley showed me the ropes when I was young, and I got hooked on the blue and white. In the first picture of me and my grandparents, I was wearing a 1998 national champions shirt as we celebrated the “Comeback Cats.” 

My grandpa made me passionate about the team. He took me to my first game, where I got to see John Wall play in Freedom Hall. Ironically, I sat behind the band. 

Kentucky will always have my heart, and it’s thanks to my grandpa.

So thank you, Granddaddy, for showing me who the right team is.

Since Sunday, my life has been hectic. I haven’t had time to think between coming back to Lexington from St. Louis in the snow to leaving on a plane for Boise a little over 24 hours later. It probably influenced what happened against Davidson. 

If you haven’t seen it yet, I am the guy who Chris Webber pointed out after the nasty dunk from Sacha Killeya-Jones early in the second half.

My phone has blown up ever since. I have gained more than 2,000 followers on Twitter. Here’s what has been going on my mind in the 24 hours since the game:

Obviously, I am a fanatic and have been nervous about the game since Sunday. I let loose whenever I see the team making momentous plays.

I never thought I would become a meme. I had no idea I would become someone “famous” in the BBN in less than 24 hours. I have been everywhere, from Barstool Sports to ESPN. Everyone has picked it up, and it has been hilarious seeing everyone’s reactions. 

When Killeya-Jones made the dunk, a lot of emotion went through my head and was clear through my reaction. But that was not even my craziest reaction ever. From collapsing out of my chair in 2014 after the Aaron Harrison three against Wisconsin to my staring at a wall for 30 minutes after the Luke Maye shot, crazy reactions to Kentucky sports have been routine for me.

I am thankful for the platform I have had on Twitter. I just want to represent my university and the band program the right way and show people around the country what it means to be a part of the Big Blue Nation. 

I am also thankful for the platform to represent my family name. My family members mean the world to me and I can never repay them enough for the guidance I have had in my life. My viral tweet, which has more than 1,000 retweets and 5,000 favorites, mentions my mom. I wrote, “Mom. I made it.”

I did that on purpose. My mom means the world to me and seeing her reaction from all this warms my heart knowing she is proud of me, all the time. 

Lastly, as a journalist, it has been a whirlwind to be interviewed by the Herald-Leader, WKYT, Kentucky Sports Radio and Hey Kentucky. After writing this, a photographer is going to follow my friends and me relaxing in Boise. That’s crazy!

Lastly, shout out to Jared Lorenzen of Throwboy Tees for putting my face on a shirt. I never expected that to happen.

Now it’s time for me to go back to cheering on the Cats my way and doing my job as a band member. 

Go Cats!