The Kentucky Wildcats powered their way to a 28-17 victory over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Saturday night. One of the heroes on the night for Kentucky was running back Ray Davis, who scored the final touchdown of the game, putting it out of reach.
After that touchdown score, ESPN+/SEC Network+ announcer Pete Sousa decided to use it as an opportunity to share Davis’s incredible story, going from being homeless and in foster care at 12 years old to a college football player, first at Vanderbilt and now at Kentucky. Sousa had linked to the story on his social media accounts before the game.
Homeless at age 12, Kentucky running back Ray Davis hopes to inspire other children who are lost in the system. https://t.co/lC95njxbNI
— Pete Sousa (@peteysousa) September 9, 2023
On paper that sounds like a decent thing to mention during the game. Play-by-play announcers always look for ways to enliven the action on the field by injecting interesting or endearing facts about the players. However, the phrasing that Sousa used ended up correlating the two aspects of Davis’s life in a way that rubbed many people the wrong way.
"There is Ray Davis. 51 yards on that drive alone. Running and receiving. He's a guy, transferring over from Vanderbilt. 9 months ago when he jumped in the portal, everybody wanted him. 11 years ago, as a foster kid, really nobody wanted him."pic.twitter.com/lb5H6lIyPB
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) September 9, 2023
“There is Ray Davis. 51 yards on that drive alone. Running and receiving,” said Sousa as the camera lingered on the RB. “He’s a guy, transferring over from Vanderbilt. 9 months ago when he jumped in the portal, everybody wanted him. 11 years ago, as a foster kid, really nobody wanted him.”
You can probably see why that didn’t quite come out the way Sousa hoped. Conflating the college football transfer portal to a child’s experience as a foster child who felt unwanted is not exactly apples to apples. It’s also not something to discuss flippantly. And it upset a lot of people who were watching.
Regardless of intent or how funny he thought that line would play, as a former foster kid, there is nothing funny about this. Making a joke about no one wanting a kid is scum of the earth material. Also, an example of why players don’t like sharing their stories with media. https://t.co/0BLBwccXwr
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) September 10, 2023
There are so many ways to tell this kids story without being a jerk about it. Kudos to Ray Davis for overcoming everything he has in his life. Wishing him only good things from here on out! https://t.co/dPIdOV3sfa
— BrownsBackersNrthJsy (@brownsnrthjrsy) September 10, 2023
What’s the worst about this is that it’s very clear that the announcer “did his homework“ on this, and planned to do this at some juncture in the game. He practiced this in front of the hotel mirror. He thought he was dropping the mic. So bad. https://t.co/SKJBa3CG4G
— David Liechty (@BackcountryFam) September 10, 2023
The lack of context on the viral clip is a tricky thing because many people who say it probably didn’t see Sousa’s tweet from before the game, in which he said “This amazing dude is an amazing story on and off the field.” Sousa is not the villain that he’s been painted as, but it was still a rather unfortunate way to work a very important issue into the football game discussion.