LAWRENCE, KAN. (AP) - Whether they need a ride, a hug, or a home cooked meal, the Kansas players know Angel Morris is there for them.
Her twin sons, Marcus and Markieff, are the team’s leading scorers and rebounders. Bill Self is their coach. But “Miss Angel,” as the players affectionately call her, is the unofficial mother of the Jayhawks.
When Thomas Robinson’s mother died, she flew to Washington, D.C. with the director of basketball operations and helped plan the funeral. A few weeks later, when the motherless young man underwent outpatient knee surgery, Angel Morris picked him up at the doctor’s office and brought him home, insisting that he drink every drop of the chicken soup she’d made just for him.
When point guard Tyshawn Taylor was in the doghouse, she lent an understanding ear. She organizes Sunday dinners and outdoor cookouts, bringing together players and their families.
“She does a lot. She’s everywhere,” Taylor said. “She’s there for everybody.”
It’s just the way she was raised, says the tall, perpetually smiling mother of 6-foot-9 Markieff and 6-8 Marcus.
“My mom had two sisters and one brother,” she said. “One sister had seven kids. The brother had 14 kids and the other sister had 10. And we were always close. Every one of us has always been close to one another. A cousin has a baby, everybody is there for her. My mother always stayed as close as she possibly could. Each generation has. That’s just the way we are.”
When Marcus and Markieff ended their prep careers in Philadelphia and signed with Kansas, there was never any question their mom would move to Lawrence, too. She got a job at a property management company and, as the twins became a bigger part of the program, so did Miss Angel.
“She’s just that type of lady,” Markieff said. “She’s very caring. She feels obligated to do things for people. That’s the special thing about her.”
It was Self who first started referring to the twins’ mom as the mother of the Jayhawks.
“The thing about Angel is she’s never in the way, but she’s always looking out for others,” Self said. “She doesn’t do it with our direction and our knowledge. She just does it on her own.”
Sometimes a parent who is that involved becomes a meddlesome nuisance. But never Miss Angel.
“She never creates a problem,” Self said. “If there is a problem, she helps you fix it. She’s done a great job raising the twins, but she’s also been a huge asset to some of the other players here, especially the ones who don’t have family close.”
Taylor, who’s found himself in the coach’s doghouse more than once, knows he can rely on his “second mom.”
“Me and Miss Angel had a bunch of talks when I was going through some stuff,” he said. “She’s a mother to all of us, a mother figure. I’m glad she’s here.”