When Patty Christian presented the drawings, the reactions of the four departing TCU players astounded her. She was so touched she wanted to present them with 10 more drawings each.
The four players -- Hank Thorns, J.R. Cadot, Craig Williams and Cheick Kone -- were moved by the parting gifts during a ceremony March 2. The pencil and charcoal drawings were the idea of Christian's husband, TCU coach Jim Christian, as a graduation gift and a way of thanking the players for their dedication to Horned Frogs basketball.
TCU (17-14) plays its first postseason game in seven years at 7 tonight against Milwaukee (20-13) at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.
"This is a special group to me," Patty Christian said. "The whole team and staff have such good hearts.
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"Their love of life and sense of fun very literally drew some love out of me, and I was so happy to be able to show my appreciation in the form of these drawings."
Especially these four players, she said, because they've meant so much to the program. Three of them are seniors, and Kone, a junior, is finishing his last year of eligibility.
Williams and Kone have already graduated, and Thorns and Cadot are set to graduate this spring and summer.
Together, they helped shepherd the Frogs from an 11-22 season a year ago to the school's first winning season since 2005.
"It was really a surprise," Cadot said. "I had no idea they were going to do that for us. It shows that we were able to impact her and coach, and she was able to do something to touch us, as well."
Patty Christian said the four players' confidence that they could help turn the program around during a tough season last year helped "carry my husband."
Patty Christian's drawing was encouraged by family in her youth, especially her mother, who has a master's degree in art.
Christian earned a business degree from Ohio University but never gave up on her passion for art.
"I really hadn't picked up a pencil in a while," she said.
"I had a small bag with vine charcoal and pencils with various hardness, including a Halloween themed pencil from my 5-year old, which worked out good for the medium detail."
She spent about 12 hours on each drawing, working at the library and other places.
"We talked about it throughout the year that we wanted to give them something from me and her that was from the heart," Jim Christian said. "I think they really appreciated it, and they knew it was from people who really cared about them."
The players loved them. Thorns tweeted a picture of the drawing that night. It's something Cadot said he'll one day show his grandkids.
"Being able to keep something like that for the rest of my life is amazing," Cadot said. "It was special that someone would put in the amount of time that she did for us."
Their reaction, in turn, moved the Christians.
"Their appreciation and what they said to me was so heartfelt, I glowed for three days," Patty Christian said. "It was one of the most special days of my life."
Framed jerseys and photos are often given to departing players as a thank you for their time with a school. But the added touch of having something made for them touched the players.
"It's more than a picture that someone just bought for us," Cadot said. "She actually took a lot of time to draw, and the effort she put in really showed."