It was 18 years ago this month that C.J. Bruton first stepped off the plane in Iowa on his way to become a part of Indian Hills Community College.
Almost two decades have passed since that first trip. A lot of miles and a lot of days have passed. The love Warrior fans have for Bruton hasn’t.
That was very apparent Thursday at “Warrior Junction” in Ottumwa. Bruton’s return to the campus he made his home away from his home country for two years in the late 1990s provided perhaps the greatest point guard in IHCC basketball history with a chance to reconnect with so many great friends and so many great memories.
Almost two decades later, if you think it doesn’t still resonate with Bruton emotionally, think again.
“My dad shows me a highlight or two even today from when I played at Indian Hills when he thinks I need to be fired up,” Bruton said. “I always tell him ‘I know you’re trying to fire me up. It’s not working.’ It just makes me tear up.”
Even with a highlight film of the 1996-97 IHCC championship team he captained at the point playing the background, Bruton didn’t tear up on Thursday as he was officially inducted into the Indian Hills Athletic Hall-of-Fame.
At least not right away.
Not until he started speaking about what he told his family when he decided to first attend Indian Hills and travel away from his home country of Australia.
“I told my mother that when I come back home, I’ll be a better man,” Bruton said as he started to choke back tears. “That first year, I was a mess. Ask anyone. It was this family that helped me get through those days. I know a lot of people think I don’t remember, but we all have landmarks in our life.