At first she thought she drank too much Gatorade.
But the second plus sign on the stick convinced Jordynn Gaymon. She was pregnant.
It was Feb. 18, 2013.
"I was terrified," admits the 20-year-old Radford junior, a 6-1 forward from Indian Trail, N.C. "I thought my mom was going to kill me. I thought my grandparents would kill me."
She wasn't sure what to say to the father, Kion Brown, a 6-8 sophomore center for the Highlanders. But she found the words after his game.
"The first thing he did was tell me everything was going to be OK, and he gave me a hug," she says.
Michael Julian Gaymon Brown was born Sept. 23, weighing in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces and 22 inches. Jordynn lists "Proud motha!" on her Twitter account -- "It's the toughest job but the most rewarding," she says -- and has worked to remain devout to her other passion, basketball. Two weeks after giving birth, she was conditioning for the Highlanders season. Even the coaches didn't expect her back until January.
Gaymon hasn't missed a game, averaging 5.8 points and 6.3 rebounds for a Highlander team that is under new management. Coach Mike McGuire is in his first season.
Gaymon is grateful for the support of McGuire and the assistants, and she remains close to former coach Tajama Abraham Ngongba, too. Ngongba, now an assistant at George Mason, realized Gaymon was pregnant before the words were spoken out loud.
"I was always a picky eater, no junk," Gaymon says. "One morning I had six biscuits and two plates of sausage and eggs. She looked at me like, 'You OK?' "
A few days later, Gaymon went bowling with Ngongba and her kids. "Are you pregnant?" Ngongba asked.
Gaymon sat out the Big South tournament but still played pickup into her seventh month. Her mother became her rock. There was no room for anger, just support.
"If it wasn't for my mom, I would not have gotten through this," she says. "She has not wavered from being by my side."
She feared the labor, especially after she and Kion reviewed birth videos in preparation for the big day.
The epidural didn't stop her pain, but all of it went away when she saw "that little alien baby on my chest."
"I want him to have everything I never had," Gaymon says. "I want him to have everything I've had and thought of having. I want him to reach his potential in everything. His dad didn't have a lot. I want him to know people can struggle. I want that to make him appreciative of what he has."
MJ, who has already outgrown his first pair of Jordans, is a smart kid already, she says, grabbing for the bottle, able to retrieve his own fallen pacifier and gleeful at the sound of that basketball buzzer. She already projects him a center as he reaches from Kion's chest to knees. Kion loves LeBron, for the record, but Jordynn fashions him more a player like Kenneth Faried or Kevin Garnett.
"He was watching the Denver Nuggets the other night. …" Gaymon says.
His nursery is a basketball them, and his books. "Basketball," Gaymon says. "Plus 'Goodnight Moon.' "
She always knew she would play basketball again, and the plan was to do so quickly. "I told myself my dream was to play college basketball. When Kion told me everything was going to be OK, that he was going to be there for me, I knew I was going to be able to come back and play."
The dream to play in college started when Gaymon was young. Her mom saw her talent and made sure her daughter got the necessary exposure. "I played for a team that was based in Georgia for a while," Gaymon says.
Receiving a letter from North Carolina was a thrill. Gaymon favored Texas-El Paso for a while, then Tennessee State but settled on Radford -- "quiet and family based," she says.
|MJ with Dad.|
"The coaches are a good support system," she says. "They understand I am a mother and I have a child. They try to help me as best they can."
She played in 21 games as a true freshman, then shot over 50 percent from the field and led the Highlanders in blocks despite averaging less than 15 minutes a game as a sophomore in 2012-13.
This season figured to be more of a struggle, with Gaymon weathering all the changes her body has endured due to the pregnancy. She had trouble finding her wind after sprints, and worked at building up her muscle, particularly in her back, still healing from the trying delivery.
Yet in just her second game, Gaymon racked up 10 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks. And in her fifth game, on Nov. 22 at Wake Forest, Gaymon tied her career high with 16 points.
"It feels how it's supposed to feel," she says. "I feel like I'm getting back into the groove. It feels great, especially when I help my team out by making an impact."
Gaymon credits the extra conditioning
Her mom helps with MJ, keeping him during road trips at her home in North Carolina. Gaymon connects with him via FaceTime every chance she gets -- 2 a.m. included -- but this stretch -- leaving Radford without a home game from Nov. 15 until Dec. 16 -- is particularly challenging.
"The hardest part is missing any part of his growing up," she says. "He started to make baby noises, and my mom was the first person to hear it. I missed it."
Gaymon remains on track to graduate on time. She was once a biology major, planning for a career as a physician's assistant. She changed that to focus on something she has always been good at: art. "I want to be an artist for a graphic design company," says Gaymon, who prefers water colors and acrylics and hopes to design logos one day. She hasn't ruled out playing overseas.
Her primary focus remains her little boy. "I have a little family," she says. "And I love it."