'Hoops Mom' hopes TV network will pick up show featuring her, her son

The goal: a scholarship for Henry Clay senior

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comDecember 16, 2013 

Jordan Green is a standout on the basketball court, but the real attention-getter at any Henry Clay game is his mom, Michelle Green.

She will cheer, she will heckle, she will make up rhymes to taunt the refs and the other teams. She sometimes barks like a dog.

She says, not without a measure of pride, that she has been kicked out of games for her over-the-top behavior. She swears that one opposing mother threatened to kill her.

Soft-spoken and polite with strangers, Jordan Green insists that his mom doesn't embarrass him.

"I'm used to it," said Jordan, who is listed as 6-foot-5 on recruiting sites (his mom says he is 6-foot-6.)

When pressed, though, Jordan Green admits that sometimes it can be a little much when his mom dances her way onto center court.

Michelle Green insists nothing is too much, because she does it all in support of a singular goal — making sure her son gets a good scholarship to a great basketball school and from there goes to the NBA.

Making that happen has been the family's business since Jordan could first dribble a ball, and it has consumed the family's time and finances as he has played ball year-round on elite traveling teams since he was a kid.

That gung-ho lifestyle is shared by Michelle Green and five other mothers from the Bluegrass who are hoping to parlay their particular brand of uber-enthusiasm into a reality television show.

If Texas can be known for its Friday Night Lights, why can't Kentucky be known for its Hoop Moms?

The idea for the show, which is being shopped to networks, came from Susie Byrd. Her son Bryce Walker-Byrd, 17, is a senior at Eastern High School in Louisville. It is his third high school and his third high school basketball team.

His mom keeps hoping to find the right fit on the court. At 5-foot-9, he has received some college offers, but not the ones she thinks he deserves.

"He's a sleeper," and it's only a matter of time before his talent is recognized for what it is, she said.

Hoop Moms, she said, could help with that. She also said there is an educational aspect for the show, too. She and the other moms have learned a lot while trying to steer their boys to greatness. Byrd said she likes "the idea of it being informative and people can walk away having learned some stuff."

Jay Russell is the producer trying to get the show on the air. Russell knows a thing or two about reality television, having starred in Southern Fried Stings on Tru TV. The show features Russell, an ex-state trooper and an addiction expert, and his team taking part in sting operations.

Russell learned what not do with the reality format during his show. What began as a look at small-town crime turned into a parade of "strip joints and naked people and drug deals."

Russell said he gets about 10 calls a week from people wanting to tell their stories. Hoops Moms stood out, he said, "because of how much they sacrifice."

"They sink their lives into these kids," he said.

A film crew has recorded some video of the families and some "sizzle reels" to show the flavor and tone of the show. For Russell, it's not about making people look bad, as some reality shows do.

A lot of times when Kentucky is the focus of a reality show, producers want to look "for people without teeth in their heads and dogs under the porch." He said he hopes to do Kentucky proud with Hoop Moms.

Sports shows can be a tough sell, but Russell said he thinks there is a niche in the market for a basketball-themed show.

Michelle Green isn't worried about how she might be portrayed. She is used to being in the spotlight. Last week when Henry Clay played Bryan Station, she was in the first row at center court, surrounded by two dozen family and friends ranging in age from 2 to 69.

Most Henry Clay fans were dressed in Henry Clay blue and yellow with school T-shirts. Michelle Green and her friends wore specially made T-shirts that featured one of her latest and favorite slogans: "That's a foul, boy, you can't do that."

During the game, the taunt is followed up with calling out the offending player's number: "That's you, 21, that's on you!"

She ordered two dozen shirts and sold them for $10 to $15, depending on the size. She figures she could sell plenty more. The money she makes, she said, could go to "Jordan's scholarship fund."

She has raised money for elite team fees and trips for years, she said. She sold her house and declared bankruptcy to move into Henry Clay's district when Jordan started high school. She knows she could have paid for a college education with the money she has spent honing Jordan's basketball skills. But she can't change that now.

She is looking ahead. She hasn't put any pictures on the walls since she has been in her new home because she plans to move on as soon as Jordan graduates, maybe follow him to wherever he goes to college, especially if it is someplace warm.

Jordan has received plenty of interest from college scouts, she said. It's almost a full-time job keeping in touch with coaches, tracking when they move from one program to the next. They haven't gotten the big call, from a school like the University of Kentucky or U of L, yet. She knows it will come. Her family has worked too hard for it not to.

By the end of the first quarter at the Bryan Station-Henry Clay game, Michelle Green has worked up a sweat. The score is 27 to 6, but her focus is so intense, you'd think it was the final moments of the Sweet 16.

The official cheer squad, a dozen peppy girls in short skirts and big bows, is no match for the blue-shirted Greens.

"Hey, it's awful quiet over there," goes one favored chant directed toward the opposing fans. "You must be losing, yeah, you must be losing."

If there is any question who the winner is, a dishwasher-sized cutout of Jordan's head bounces above the crowd.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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