Even before FSU's big win, it was a magical moment for Angola
The Florida State men's basketball team has lost just two home games in the last two years.
There have been a litany of special moments during that run. But maybe none more special than what happened before the game on Saturday afternoon, when senior Braian Angola was surprised by his mother during Senior Day festivities.
During the game, Angola scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half to help lead FSU to a critical 85-76 win. But it was the scene before the game that will stay with him -- and pretty much anyone who was in the building to see it -- for a long, long time.
Once the Colombia native realized his mother was actually in the building, he couldn't contain his emotions, breaking down in tears as she walked to center court to meet him.
"It was an unbelievable moment to see my mom here," Angola said. "I don't know how to explain it. She's only watched me play one (other) time. To have her here for Senior Night, I'm pretty sure she's pretty proud of me."
The only other time Angola's mom had seen him play in person was at Duke earlier this season. He said he moved away from his hometown at the age of 14 to pursue his basketball dream -- one that led him to Nevada for his final year of high school, to Idaho for junior college and then Tallahassee for his Division-I opportunity at Florida State.
Angola has made the most of his final season with the Seminoles. He was the third-leading scorer on the team coming into Saturday and then capped off his final regular-season game with a 21-point outburst when his team absolutely needed it.
And every time he scored, every time he knifed into the paint to score another basket, he would look up at his mom in the stands.
She had flown all the way from Colombia. He wanted to make sure he put on a show for her.
"It was motivation for myself," Angola said. "I was looking at her the whole time. I was focused on the game, but I was just looking at my mom. I didn't see nobody else in the crowd. Just my mom."
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton doesn't get emotional in front of the media very often. He's typically stoic in any situation.
On Saturday afternoon, after Angola's 21 points helped his team reach the 20-win plateau, Hamilton was asked what it was like for him to see Angola's mom walking to midcourt to greet her son.
"Braian had a very emotional couple of days," Hamilton said. "Because his two [junior college] coaches flew in from Idaho and surprised him. He was very happy to see them. His girlfriend flew in from Denmark. She's a professional basketball player. She's very close with him and his mom. So I think that his girlfriend arranged for his mom to surprise him."
That was when Hamilton started to get choked up.
"It was obviously very emotional for him to have all the people who have meant a lot to him being here," Hamilton said. "Obviously, to top it off, his mother was here. So he was very happy."
FSU's head coach wasn't the only one shedding tears when he saw Angola's reaction. His teammates were, too.
They gave Angola an enthusiastic embrace after he posed for pictures with his mom.
"I was literally crying," said freshman center Ike Obiagu. "When I saw him break down in tears, I could not hold it back. I know what it feels like to go away from your family. I haven't seen my family in like six years.
"That was a beautiful thing to see."
It was special to the American-born players as well.
Chipley, Fla., native Trent Forrest sees his family after virtually every game. But even he could appreciate what that moment meant.
"It is very emotional," Forrest said. "I was telling the guys, anytime I see a brother -- my blood brother or my teammate brother -- I get emotional any time I see them cry. So I understand where he was coming from. And her coming so far, it's very touching."