(NEW YORK) — LSU basketball star Angel Reese had a heartwarming reunion Friday with her cousin, UConn’s Jordan Hawkins, who snuck in to the studio to surprise Reese during her interview with “GMA3.”
It was the first time the college basketball stars saw each other since each won their respective NCAA championship games over the past week.
“Have you had a chance to see him?” host Gio Benitez asked Reese, as Hawkins appeared from backstage out of his cousin’s view. Reese said she hadn’t.
Benitez then told Reese to turn around for the big surprise. When she saw her cousin, she screamed, and they gave each other a big hug. Reese told “GMA3” that they grew up playing basketball together at cookouts and family functions.
Hawkins said of his cousin, “I’m super proud, just to see your family doing something amazing is crazy. We’re all proud.”
“I’m happy for him, to see everything he’s done and be so successful,” Reese said.
Earlier in the interview, Reese also spoke about her team’s historic win against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday and addressed criticism she received after making mocking hand gestures while staring down Iowa star Caitlin Clark late in the LSU Tigers’ 102-85 victory.
“I trash talk. So that’s just who I am, and that’s very passionate of me. I’m from Baltimore, so that’s kind of what we do. Caitlin’s a great player, and she understood that. It was nothing personal towards her or any player that we’ve gone at this year,” Reese told “GMA3.”
Some social media commenters argued that the negative comments Reese received perpetuated stereotypes about Black women and exemplified a double standard, noting that Clark, who is white, largely avoided backlash after making a similar gesture in a previous game in the tournament.
In a post-game press conference, Reese said, “All year, I was critiqued about who I was. I don’t fit in a box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. But when other people do it, y’all say nothing. So this was for the girls that look like me, that’s going to speak up on what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you.”
Clark herself defended Reese in an interview with ESPN earlier this week, saying she doesn’t “think Angel should be criticized at all.”
“We’re all competitive. We all show our emotions in a different way. You know, Angel is a tremendous, tremendous player. I have nothing but respect for her. I love her game – the way she rebounds the ball, scores the ball, is absolutely incredible. I’m a big fan of her and even the entire LSU team. They played an amazing game,” Clark continued, adding that “men have always had trash talk.”
The LSU-Iowa game was the most-viewed NCAA women’s basketball game on record, with 9.9 million viewers, according to ESPN.
Reese, 20, started her college basketball career in 2020 in her home state with the Maryland Terrapins. During her freshman season, she suffered a Jones fracture in her right foot and underwent surgery. She transferred to LSU just one year ago, leading the Tigers to win its first ever national championship in her first season with the team.
Reese said transferring away from home was the hardest thing she’s ever done.
“A year and a day later, now I’m in this situation. So it’s crazy how life can change in a year,” Reese said.
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