By Tabatha Bender
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
After Kansas took nearly the whole second half to erase a 17-point Texas Tech lead on Jan. 21, the Jayhawks managed to tie the game with less than a minute to play. On Kansas’ final possession, senior guard Asia Boyd utilized almost all of the 28 seconds on the clock to drain a layup with less than a second remaining. This all but sealed the victory or win as Texas Tech wasn’t able to answer and Kansas took home its first Big 12 Conference and road win of the 2014-15 season, 68-66.
“I just knew I had to make a play,” Boyd said. “I actually didn't realize that the shot went in until I turned back around and watched the video replay. The game was tied, so it was going to be a wash if I didn't make it, but it ended up being the game-winning shot. I'm glad my teammates trusted me to take it.”
As one of four captains, the Detroit, Michigan native has helped lead the Jayhawks to a 13-11 overall and 4-7 Big 12 Conference record so far this season. She is most often the first player called upon by head coach Bonnie Henrickson off the bench and is third on the team with 9.8 points per game. She has tallied 12 games this season ending with double digits. In the Jayhawks’ win over then-No. 10 Cal on Dec. 7, the senior shot a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc.
Last season, she appeared in every game and started three. Boyd averaged 27.5 minutes, 11.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. She scored in double figures 19 times, including a career-high 25 against Texas Southern on Dec. 12, 2013.
Off the court, Boyd has chalked up multiple accolades in the classroom as well. She was named to the Big 12 Commissioners Honor Roll and the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll for Fall 2013. Those efforts were the second time accomplishing the honors, as she was named to the same lists for Spring 2012.
It’s easy to see the success Boyd has racked up on the court and in the classroom during her time at Kansas, but what most do not know is that she has accomplished these feats despite great odds working against her.
While growing up in inner-city Detroit, Boyd’s childhood was far from easy. Her dad lost his job due to a back injury and her grandma passed away from brain cancer.
“We ended up losing our house while we were trying to keep up with (my grandma’s) medical bills,” Boyd explained. “We used to live across the street from our grandma, but then we lost both of those houses. I think I’ve lived in probably seven or eight houses since then.”
One of those places was an apartment that Boyd and one of her sisters lived in. It was located in the same complex as the rest of her family, but it was a completely separate apartment unit. In high school, yet another tragedy struck her family when the apartment caught fire.
“We didn’t have a lot of money to move,” Boyd said. “(My family) ended up staying there for a couple of months to get prepared to move, trying to fix the place up. I moved in with my high school coach just to finish out school and get ready to play up here.”
During this same timeframe, Boyd’s mother became pregnant, but lost the baby around December of Boyd’s junior year in college. Although it was a sad time for her family, Boyd said the loss helped them move on from other hardships they had faced in the past.
“I was actually really excited when my mom got pregnant because I knew that would make them move out of the house quicker and they just started getting themselves together quicker,” Boyd said. “But then she lost the baby, so it was kind of sad. I’m happy now, because I think she was a blessing in disguise because it helped our family move on; they got a new car, a new house, it was going really good. Everything is a lot more stable now.”
One thing that Boyd has learned over the years is that having teammates to rely on is one way to work through adversity, whatever it may be. She believes that any team can become a family of its own, but for her, knowing that she has 11 other people that she can depend on helps when life get tough.
Boyd tries to return the support she gets from her teammates right back to them. Especially in her senior year, she hopes she is able to lead by example. Playing every game with intensity and leaving everything she has on the court every game is what Boyd hopes her teammates pick up from her.
“Everyone has an off day,” Boyd said. “I think when you have support and you see a teammate going through something, you want to be able to help them. I want my teammates to look at me and think of how strong I am, even when I'm having an off day. I want to be that rock for them.”
Not only does she hope to be a role model for her fellow Jayhawks, but Boyd hopes that her younger siblings look up to her and her accomplishments, too.
“I hope they follow in my footsteps,” Boyd said. “Not necessarily through sports, but just achieving their goals. My younger sister is really strong in academics, which is good. Each of my siblings have different paths they want to take, but the same end goal.”
After college, Boyd hopes to continue to play basketball, even if that means moving overseas. If that doesn’t work out, she wants to get a Master’s degree or go into law enforcement. She expressed that she never would have guessed she would end up playing for Kansas, but that she is grateful to have the opportunity, especially because so many do not get the chances that she has been given. Despite hard moments, Boyd has shown her Jayhawk family, as well as her immediate family, how to thrive in times of difficulty.