Arizona’s Justin Kier draws inspiration from pain

“If I was trapped in that car I don’t know if my mother would still be alive”
Published: Mar. 19, 2022 at 10:35 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - University of Arizona guard Justin Kier’s road to the NCAA tournament started long before he got to Arizona.

It started when he was seven years old, when his life changed in unimaginable ways.

“Everything she had is embedded in me,” said Justin Kier.

Every time Kier steps on the court, he does it for his mother Keley.

Justin is a mama’s boy, always has been and always will be, according to his grandmother Evelyn Kier. But, Keley and Justin’s relationship changed forever in 2005.

“I remember looking up and we were going off the road at probably 25 miles an hour,” said Justin. “I look ahead and she was having a heart attack and seizure at the same time, her eyes were rolled in the back of her head.”

Justin managed to squeeze out of the half cracked window of their wrecked white Jeep.

“I’m sitting in the middle of the road screaming and crying, screaming ‘my mom needs help, my mom needs help’.”

As an ambulance arrived, Justin sprinted the four blocks back to his grandmother’s house.

“He actually got out of the car and ran down here to get me,” said Evelyn. “I had my other grandbabies with me and my neighbors took my other grandbabies and I ran up to where she was.”

The heart attack and seizure left Keley unable to speak and paralyzed from the neck down.

“I remember it every single day,” said Justin. “We’ve been grinding ever since then.”

“He often says ‘mom this is for you,’ he would write her name on his shoes,” said Evelyn. “I think that’s a driving force for him.”

Evelyn raised Justin and his brother. Today, she and Keley are his biggest cheerleaders — even from thousands of miles away.

“You can tell that she’s listening to him,” said Evelyn. “She’ll put her eyes toward where I have the phone. She hears him.”

“I know if she could be here, she would be at every game decked out in Arizona gear,” said Justin.

Evelyn is not surprised by the success Justin has experienced on and off the court.

“I look at him and say ‘boy you’re unstoppable,’” said Evelyn. “He’s just got that type of attitude.”

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