She wears red almost 365 days a year, but on Saturday, she will have a soft spot for Kentucky blue.
“I just cheer for my brother,” Louisville’s Myisha Hines-Allen said simply. “Number 41 for Kentucky and that’s the only person I’m cheering for, and well, wishing for the best for Louisville.”
It’s a tough spot to be in for a big sister who plays for the school getting ready to take on her baby brother, Kentucky defensive end Josh Allen.
And next weekend when his big sister, a star forward for the Cardinals women’s basketball team, plays against Kentucky, Josh will feel a similar conflict.
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“We don’t really get too caught up in that,” Hines-Allen said of the Cats-Cards rivalry. It helps that they both came to the commonwealth from New Jersey. “He comes to my games and wears red and I go to his games and wear blue.”
Still, theirs is a family divided at this time of year with Josh at Kentucky and Myisha at Louisville.
“We don’t talk Kentucky-Louisville too much,” Josh said this week. “We just support each other.”
But sometimes things get a little testy within the family.
“My uncle actually texted our group chat today and congratulated my brother for getting to a bowl game and then he said, ‘Now go beat Louisville. Sorry, Myisha,’” she said this week. “Our family makes jokes about it. It’s pretty cool that we go to rival schools.”
Josh Allen stared at his phone waiting seconds after his uncle sent the message.
“I knew she was going to say something back,” he smiled.
The close-knit family, which includes four girls (LaTorri, Ranese, Kyra and Myisha) and then two boys (Isaiah and Joshua), was always hectic and competitive.
Always on the go with sports, including LaTorri and Kyra, who both played basketball in college, too.
“A lot of sports going on,” Myisha said. “We were always doing something. Only at nighttime or at dinner was when you’d see everyone.”
Hines-Allen admitted the girls were a little bit rough on the younger boys.
“My brothers weren’t that big,” said Myisha, a 6-foot-2 former McDonald’s All-American who averaged 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds for Louisville last season.
“We’d kind of beat them up because we were bigger than them. Now it’s a lot different. Both of them are a lot bigger, especially Josh.”
It’s a little tougher to beat up on Josh now that he’s 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, she admitted.
Although Josh might get a side eye or two the next time Myisha sees him because he tried to take a little credit for her basketball success.
“I’m the one that taught her how to play,” he said proudly, throwing his head and shoulders back grinning widely. “Taught her how to be a good post player, gave her little elbows and stuff to help her along.”
Even through the phone, her eye roll was evident.
“That sounds like something he’d say, but he’s NOT the reason,” she laughed.
“Don’t tell him I said this — but I guess he’ll probably read it — he’s not that good at basketball. He’s just big. He wasn’t that big of a challenge playing and helping me get better.”
Two years apart, they grew up playing sports together in camps with Myisha even trying out for the youth football team he was on.
She won’t take credit for his football acumen, though.
In his first season as a starter, Allen leads Kentucky and is ninth in the Southeastern Conference in sacks with 6.5. Allen, who has 53 tackles this year, is third on the team in tackles for loss with eight. His four forced fumbles rank eighth nationally.
“I knew he was capable of doing this,” Hines-Allen said of her brother. “My whole family knew he was capable of being this successful. I just hope it continues, to see him get to where he wants to be and that’s the NFL.”
Allen will need to have a big game along with fellow defensive end Denzil Ware to help the Cats (6-5) try to contain Heisman Trophy front-runner Lamar Jackson of Louisville.
“He’ll need to play a good game this game,” Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops said of Allen. “He’ll be an important factor, as will anybody that’s in a position to be in a one-on-one situation with their quarterback.”
As the game starts on Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Myisha Hines-Allen will cheer in her heart for Kentucky’s No. 41.
And he’ll do the same next weekend.
Ask around the Kentucky locker room and players know who Josh Allen’s big sister is. He makes sure of it, even if she’s wearing the opposing colors.
“I brag,” he said. “I tell everyone on my team who she is. My sister’s a top-five player in the country. You have to brag. I brag a lot on her.”
Kentucky at No. 11 Louisville