South Carolina fan Zoey Cunningham had a question for her father, Donald, as the two watched the top-ranked Gamecocks' game against Texas A&M on Jan 13. The 8-year-old, who was seeing her first game in person, wanted to know one thing.
"Aliyah Boston again?" she asked her dad.
Boston scored a game-high 19 points in South Carolina's 65-45 win.
"By the time we got there, she knew so much, like a recent ESPN article ranking her [Boston] the No. 1 player in women's college basketball. She's watched before on TV, but it was different being there," Donald Cunningham told ESPN.
What came next proved just how different being there in person can be instead of watching at home.
First, Zoey Cunningham got a high-five from freshman guard Saniya Rivers. Then her favorite player was in shouting distance. So why not yell out and hope Boston would respond, right?
All it took was a "hi" from the Gamecock forward to make Cunningham's night and turn her into an internet sensation.
During the car ride home after the now-viral moment between her and Boston, Zoey couldn't wait to tell everyone about her memorable encounter.
"She called her mom and FaceTimed 'Hay-Hay' (stepmom) and 'Paw-Paw' (my dad)," Donald said. "She didn't sleep the whole way home. She was constantly asking if AB [Boston] liked her video. And [she was] tracking views."
Turns out, Boston did see it, along with Rivers and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. All three came together and made a personal video for the Cunninghams at Friday's practice.
On Friday evening, Cunningham posted her response to the video on her dad's Twitter account. Coach Staley confirmed that she was aboard the Zoey bandwagon.
Boston's blue hair and dominance on the floor make her Zoey's favorite. She is also a fan of senior guard Destanni Henderson and junior guard Zia Cooke. The three Gamecock players are the team's top scorers and a big reason why the squad is ranked No. 1 with a 16-1 record heading into Sunday's game against Arkansas (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Donald Cunningham, 30 and a father of four, has been a South Carolina fan all of his life. Zoey only recently got onboard. She was a fan of "the team from the upstate (Clemson)," as he put it, until she witnessed the Gamecocks' "Sandstorm" tradition at a football game last year.
Zoey is hooked now. She might even want to play for South Carolina down the road.
"We'll see about that one," Donald said.