GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Marilyn Williams has never been a sports fan, but that all changed when her grandson Marcus Bingham Jr. became a Spartan.
Williams is anxiously awaiting Saturday night's Final Four game, when Michigan State University will play Texas Tech for a spot in the NCAA championship game. Instead of traveling to Minneapolis or even watching the game from her home, Williams will have to watch from Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. She has to stay at the hospital for a month while she recovers from two back surgeries.
Even though Bingham Jr. has the longest wingspan on the MSU basketball team and stands 6'11", to his grandma, he's still "Little Marcus."
Though he plays for one of the country's best basketball teams, Bingham Jr. has only been playing the game since he was a sophomore at Catholic Central High School.
“I was like, ‘Wow. He really can do this,'" Williams tells FOX 17.
The MSU freshman is one of Williams' nine grandchildren. No matter what, when he has a game, she's watching.
“Even watching him on the bench is exciting because I mean, he’s really for his team even if he doesn’t play the game, he’s really cheering his team on," Williams says.
Even when he's on the bench, Bingham Jr. isn't the only one cheering.
“I cheer really loud really at home," Williams says. "Even if I’m at home alone. I’m cheering, my neighbors probably thinking, ‘What is wrong with her?’”
To make her feel more at home during the Final Four game, hospital staff at Mary Free Bed are throwing Williams a watch party.
“People are invited to come to the, to watch the game here," Williams says. "Our friends and family, even some of the people who are Michigan State fans are able to come.”
University of Michigan fans are certainly welcome to come, but should be warned: Williams will call them out, like she did Thursday morning while playing cards with another patient who was wearing Michigan sweatpants.
“I said, ‘Wrong thing to wear!’" Williams says with a laugh. “And I was telling her you know, ‘My grandson plays for Michigan State, so you are definitely wearing the wrong color.’”
Williams says she keeps in touch with her grandson while he's on the road. She recalls a phone call they had before MSU's Elite Eight game against Duke.
“I talked to him and he said, ‘Grandma, this game is for you.’ And they won. He did," Williams says. “I am just so proud of him and I know he’s gonna go far. I know.”
Williams says she hopes her grandson will one day play for the NBA, but still encourages him to finish his degree so that he will have an education to support him if he gets injured. Right now, Bingham Jr. is studying communications.