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Aug. 28, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina men’s basketball team had a special guest speak to the group recently in Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter. Carpenter, who will also be the celebrity starter to kick off the “Game-Cocks” cheer at a sold-out Williams-Brice Stadium on Thursday prior to the football team’s season opener versus Texas A&M, is a sophomore at South Carolina and will be featured during SEC Nation on Thursday on the SEC Network in advance of kickoff.

A native of Gilbert, S.C., Carpenter spent five years in the Marines, and was awarded the military’s highest award for valor in action on June 19 from President Obama. Carpenter spoke to the men’s basketball team about the timeline of his duty in the Marines, but also about his long recovery in the hospital in an effort to instill in them to appreciate the little things in life.

“I know and understand that the team has had plenty of coaching and speeches about how to be a good teammate, so I not so much assume, but I know that playing as long as they have that they have got those qualities instilled in them, or they would not be playing at the college level,” Carpenter said. “[When talking to the team] I just hit on more of appreciate the small and simple things, and be thankful that you have had people raise you right to get you to this point, and that you’re able to play sports at a Division I, top college in the nation.

“The fact that we can go into the bathroom and turn a knob and are able to get fresh water, just the simple things that I think a lot of times that people in the fast-paced world that we live in, get caught up really not remembering, or not remembering to be thankful or appreciative for,” Carpenter continued. “I think by telling the team that, maybe making them think a little bit about what they really have and what they have really been blessed with, will absolutely transfer as teammates on and off the court.”

Sophomore guard Duane Notice was thankful for the opportunity to meet Carpenter and hear about his experience.

“To get the opportunity to meet Kyle was big,” Notice said. “Before I came back to campus for summer school, I remember looking at Twitter when I was back home [in Canada] and seeing him receive the Award from President Obama, so it was a great moment to hear about his experience and learn from him and hear how easily relatable his story about teamwork and how it translates to us on the court. I feel like that is something that my teammates and I will take this season and use to our advantage.”

The message of appreciate the small things in life resonated with California native, sophomore forward Reggie Theus Jr.

“Kyle taught me how important it is to cherish life and how important it is to cherish every moment and recognize how blessed we are no matter what situation we’re in,” Theus commented. “I’m happy that he was able to come here to talk to us today and it was an honor to meet him.”

Following Carpenter’s speech, third-year head coach Frank Martin gave him an autographed basketball from the team and invited him to serve as honorary captain for a game during the upcoming 2014-15 campaign.

Carpenter’s speech will be part of a special feature during a segment of SEC Nation on Thursday. The show will air from 4-6 p.m., ET, nationwide.