Roni Toppin walked into the Lahaina Civic Center minutes before the opening tip between the Dayton Flyers and Virginia Tech at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
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Obi Toppin’s mom wore a Dayton jersey customized for her by a Dayton fan. It read “Obi 1 Kenobi” on the back and had a Star Wars patch on the front.
Roni got to watch her son score 24 points in an 89-62 victory in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational, but the most amazing thing about the day wasn’t Toppin’s performance. It was the fact that Roni, accompanied by Obi’s godfather Victor Monaros and his fiancee, Taheerea Ah, made it to the game at all.
They traveled from Jamaica, where they watched Obi’s brother Jacob play with Rhode Island, to New York City to San Francisco and finally to Maui, landing with just enough time to check into their hotel, drop their bags and drive to the arena. They knew it was going to be a close call, so they got dressed for the game during their layover in San Francisco.
“It was a tough 24 hours of travel,” Roni said.
“We’re tired, but it’s gone now,” Monaros said before the game. “Once you’re here, the adrenaline is pumping.”
Monaros said they watched Dayton beat Georgia on Monday while on the plane. Toppin scored 25 points in that game.
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“No headphones,” Roni said. “We were just yelling.”
“The whole plane was excited,” Victor said.
“We apologized after the game,” Roni said.
Monaros said they couldn’t watch one of the brothers without seeing the other. Jacob, a freshman, is averaging 6.3 points for the Rams, who went 2-1 at the Jamaica Classic.
“Jacob was the first,” Monaros said. “We had to make sure he’s doing what he needs to do because Obi’s going to take care of what he needs to take care of. Everything for him is straight business. He’s got to do whatever it takes to take the Dayton Flyers and the fan base to a higher level.”
Obi didn’t get to talk to his mom or Monaros, who he refers to as his uncle, before the game, but asked after the game about their effort to get to Maui in time, he said, “She’s the best mom anyone could ask for. She does everything she can — even if it’s to her last penny — to get to our games. Her going to Jamaica and also coming here, I know she went through a lot, but her and my uncle being here, it’s a privilege and I’m glad they got the chance to come.”
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