The Miami Hurricanes honored Shelton Douthett during thier double-overtime 28-20 win over the Clemson Tigers (Courtesy Photo)

College football across the country brings families and communities together, providing a sense of belonging. The Miami Hurricanes football program holds a special place in Shelton Douthett’s heart and is the reason he continues to carry on the legacy of his late brother, Wayne, who passed away from pneumonia in 2009.

The brother’s love for the Hurricanes began in 1995 as their mother, a Miami police officer, got tickets for a game against Syracuse.  The Douthett brothers became fans and regularly attended games for over a decade. They became official season ticket holders in 2009. Their tight bond was evident as Shelton would wear a No. 32 jersey and his brother Wayne would wear a  No. 72 jersey.

Wayne and Shelton attended their last Hurricane game together against Florida State during the 2009 season.  Inspired by Wayne’s legacy, Shelton Douthett started a scholarship fund in his honor. The money would go to a family chosen by the Marian Center; a disability school in Miami that Wayne attended. The scholarship funds ultimately led to a bigger purpose.

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While Wayne was hospitalized, The brothers watched Miami’s first home game against Georgia Tech that season, as the players made their grand entrance through the smoke. When the players ran out Wayne was inspired and came up with a clever idea that would stick with his brother forever. The deal he made with Shelton was that once he got out of the hospital he would have to wear the full Hurricane uniform to their first game back.

Shelton carried out his brother’s promise in Miami’s Bowl game against Wisconsin later that season.

At first, Shelton felt uncomfortable wearing the full uniform, but after he told his story the opposing fans felt moved. When the game concluded, Badgers supporters had contributed about $500 to the Wayne Kevin Douthett Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Since that moment Shelton has worn a full uniform to every Hurricane football game he attends, the tradition grew and went viral on social media. Fans from different fan bases appreciated Wayne’s legacy.

This season the football program gifted him a special uniform, reinforcing the connection between him, his brother, and the team. Shelton also got to meet Miami’s head coach Mario Cristobal as he got invited to attend practice during the week of their game against Georgia Tech.  Before every game, Shelton visits his brother’s grave and has a ritual to honor their bond. He plans to continue this tradition keeping his promise to him.

Douthett commented on the impact and comfort he has knowing his brother’s legacy lives on within the Hurricanes fan base in USA Today.

“It makes it feel like my brother has something to do with it too,” Douthett said. “He’s a part of ‘The U’ and what it all represents. It makes it all worthwhile.”