It was the week before the Final Four when Patrick Woods received the call at work from his best friend.
“You’re never going to believe this,” Scott Bennett said. “I just thought of the best name for you guys.”
Bennett knew, from experience, that Woods and his wife, Heather, could use his assistance.
The couple were expecting a son in early April, and when that previously happened in 2015, the name “Benjamin” was chosen hastily.
“It’s very hard for us to name children,” Heather Woods said last week with a laugh. “Last time, we didn’t decide until we were leaving the labor room. ‘Do you have a name we can write on the board?’”
Bennett knew the Woodses were both big KU fans, and also there was a possibility the baby would be born on the national championship game.
What about “Graham,” he suggested, after KU point guard Devonté Graham?
When Patrick Woods returned home that night, he brought up the idea to his wife. It wasn’t a difficult sell, as Graham had become one of her favorite players since he arrived at KU four years ago.
“He just always smiled,” she said. “You could tell he was enjoying what he was doing, and he was always happy. I just appreciate very good, humble people. He seemed very down-to-earth, and I really liked that about him.”
The Woodses, who live in Stilwell, had their name ... and it didn’t even come as a surprise once they started telling family members and friends there would be a KU tie-in.
Heather Woods, whose favorite player growing up was point guard Jacque Vaughn, dreamed for a long time that she’d one day become a KU broadcaster like Max Falkenstien. As a young girl, she also had a collection of VHS tapes with recorded KU basketball games on them, starting a ritual of watching them at night before going to bed.
In recent years, Heather and Patrick made it a tradition to go on the road to watch KU basketball games in the NCAA Tournament. One time, they even ended up in the same hotel as the team, getting the chance to meet Graham and his mother, Dewanna King, in the hallway; Heather still claims that her pep talk to Graham helped him to one of his best tournament performances.
This year, the Woods family made the trip to Wichita for KU’s first NCAA games before watching the Final Four at home. Benjamin previously had been born two weeks premature, which provided enough reason to stay put.
“I didn’t want to be traveling to San Antonio,” Heather said, “and have a baby in an airplane.”
The big day came April 6. At 4:29 p.m., Heather gave birth to Graham William Woods, who weighed 8 pounds and 12 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long.
The next morning, she tweeted at Devonté Graham, telling him she hoped her son would some day be a great leader and basketball player like him.
Graham re-sent the message out to his nearly 70,000 followers with a heart emoji and one word attached: “Love.”
-- Devonte’ Graham (@Devonte_Graham4) April 8, 2018
“I’ve had dogs and hamsters named after me, but someone naming their child after me was cool,” Graham told The Star, “and just shows how great our fans are and how much they love us.”
Heather, who also received a Twitter reply from Graham’s mother, said the response from the family was unexpected.
“It’s cool that he recognized it, because he could’ve easily skipped over it,” Heather said. “It wasn’t about doing it for anybody else other than him to know, ‘Hey we recognize you and appreciate you and what you’ve accomplished, the person that you are.’”
The family already has an online order in place. Heather and Patrick have a youth-sized No. 4 Kansas jersey coming to the house for their newborn son.
“Hopefully we’ll get it signed one day for him,” Patrick said. “That’d be cool.”
Heather, who manages a claims team for a logistics company, and Patrick, a realtor, say they plan on letting Graham know about his namesake when he gets older.
“They’ve always made such a big deal about how big of a role Devonté’s mom played in his life, and how she had him at 14,” Heather said. “I just think their relationship is very special, and I guess that in my heart, I hope that I have that with my child.”
She paused for a second.
“And heck, if he’s going to be a point guard for KU,” Heather said, “I wouldn’t really mind that either.”