GAINESVILLE, Fla. — She didn’t care whether he threw two touchdowns or two interceptions, or whether the Gators won or lost. She’s a kid, and kids have a way of providing us with perspective and the innocence of youth.
As Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson walked off the field late Saturday night after Florida’s win over USF, 7-year-old Evelyn Hill caught him by surprise. She walked over, took Richardson’s right hand with her left hand, and then patted the top of his hand with her other hand. The warm exchange was captured by Courtney Culbreath, a talented former UAA staff photographer shooting the game.
“Despite how I played, you always have moments like that, people coming up to you who just love you for who you are,” Richardson said a couple of days later, looking at the photograph on an iPhone screen. “Interacting with people like that, it makes me feel like I’m doing something right.”
Richardson knows of Evelyn through her father, Tony Hill, Florida’s associate director of sports health for football. Evelyn and her three siblings have grown up around the game because of their father’s career.
While Richardson deals with the spotlight of being Florida’s quarterback in his first season as the starter, he is grounded enough to understand the ups and downs that come with the territory. More than once this season following games, his interactions with young fans have been shared on social media.
Looking at the photo of Evelyn taking his hand brought a smile to his face. Richardson grew up in a single-parent household with his younger brother Cory. He enjoys interacting with fans and has a soft spot for the smallest ones.
“I’ve always been fond of kids and love to hang around kids, especially with my little brother,” he said. “I helped my mom raise him so I love him like he’s my son.”
Meanwhile, a closer look at the photo makes it obvious Evelyn isn’t Richardson’s only young fan. The young boy in the background has his eyes on No. 15, too.