JONESVILLE — A three-year-old Jonesville resident won a photo contest sponsored by her favorite athlete.
Three-year-old Bella Grace Gowan is a huge fan of the South Carolina Gamecocks. She has not missed one home football game this year, and her mother, Kelly Boyd, has arranged for Cocky to make an appearance at her daughter’s fourth birthday party next month.
Bella Grace’s favorite part of the games — aside from waving her towel during “Sandstorm” — is standing by the players’ gate at Williams Brice Stadium and watching players arrive. She has had photos taken with numerous Gamecock athletes including Jadeveon Clowney, Jerrell Adams, and Heisman trophy winner George Rogers.
Her all-time favorite Gamecock player, however, is without a doubt Marcus Lattimore. She even has a cat and several baby dolls she has named “Marcus.”
Lattimore was drafted by defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round, and at South Carolina, Lattimore tallied 38 rushing touchdowns in three seasons, despite missing significant time with injuries.
Boyd said she saw on Twitter two weeks ago where Lattimore’s stepfather, Vern Smith, said for everyone to “tweet” their favorite Marcus Lattimore photos. Boyd tweeted a photo she took of Bella last year, just after Lattimore’s injury during South Carolina’s game against Tennessee. Boyd said she had been taking pictures of Bella at the beach, wearing her No. 21 Marcus Lattimore jersey, and she saw the child fold her hands and close her eyes. Bella told her mother she was praying for Marcus to get well from his injury.
The photo of three-year-old Bella praying for Lattimore’s recovery won the contest, and she soon received a letter from the Marcus Lattimore Foundation/DREAMS (Driven Righteously to Empower Athletes’ Minds Spiritually), along with a signed Lattimore rookie card.
The letter read as follows:
Bella Grace, Thank you for being my little BIGGEST fan. Congrats on winning my rookie card for the picture you sent in. Always remember to defy the odds and Dare to be Different. Have a blessed day! Love, Marcus
Bella Grace Gowan is the daughter of Kelly Boyd and Stacy Gowan. The photo of Bella Grace praying, as well as the signed Lattimore rookie card, are currently on display at Boyd’s Studio 201 hair salon, located at 201 Depot St. in Jonesville.