In this photo taken Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014, Connecticut guard Ryan Boatright warms up with teammates for a nationally televised NCAA college basketball game in Memphis, Tenn. Boatright wrote the initails "AW" on his cheek for Thursday's game to honor his cousin who was shot to death on Monday in Aurora, Ill. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)
Updated: February 20, 2014 6:53AM
UConn guard Ryan Boatright often wears his emotions on his face. On Thursday night, they were just a bit more visible.
Boatright, from East Aurora High School, had the initials “AW” drawn on his left cheek in marker during the team’s nationally televised game against Memphis. It was a visible tribute to his cousin, 20-year-old Arin Williams, who was shot to death Monday in Aurora.
Williams’ mother had died in childbirth, and he and Boatright were raised as brothers in Boatright’s home.
“He called my mom, ‘mom,’” Boatright told reporters after the game.
Williams was allegedly shot to death in the bathroom of a restaurant by two brothers who tried to rob him during what was possibly a drug deal, police have said.
Jaquan Hosey-Green, 19, and his 18-year-old brother, Dimitri Hosey-Green of Joliet were arrested Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder.
Boatright remembered his cousin as goofy, a guy who could make everyone around him happy. He said he got almost little or no sleep this week, but was glad he played on Thursday night.
He scored seven points, just over half his season average, and dished out four assists in UConn’s 83-73 upset of the No. 17 Tigers.
His teammates say they will do whatever they can to support him.
“We’re his brothers,” said forward DeAndre Daniels. “If he ever needed anything, we’re here for him.”
Boatright said he appreciates that, and has a greater appreciation for the opportunity UConn and basketball has given him. That, he said, is another reason he drew the “AW” on his cheek.
“It was just to remind myself why I go so hard with this sport, to get my family up out of there,” he said.