Less than 24 hours after the death of his father, Wes Durham readied to call the two night games at the ACC Tournament on Wednesday night.
Durham, the voice of Georgia Tech from 1995-2013 and the play-by-play man for the Falcons, learned early Wednesday that his father, Woody, died at the age of 76 at his home in Chapel Hill, N.C. Woody Durham, a legend in North Carolina for his 40-year run as the voice of the Tar Heels, had suffered from primary progressive aphasia, a neurocognitive disease.
In taking to the air for the ACC Network, Durham was the dutiful son to his father and his mother, Jean. He flew to New York on Monday knowing that the end might be near.
“Basically, they had a conversation and so when I started to find out about the decline, where we were, she basically said that he intimated that whatever happens, Go to Brooklyn,” Durham said Wednesday night inside the Barclays Center. “Just kind of shows you where he was – his love for the event and my love for the event.”
Durham was to call the 7 p.m. game between Virginia Tech and Notre Dame and the nightcap between Syracuse and, as things would have it, the Tar Heels.
“It’s not easy, but it’s certainly comfortable being here as opposed to not being here,” Durham said. “The irony is that I get the night games, and Carolina ended up in the night game, so now all of a sudden, it’s all coming back full circle.”
The broadcast of this tradition-bound event connected father and son even more deeply. Durham said that his father, before his hire as the UNC voice in 1971, called the ACC Tournament for a precursor of Raycom Sports, which produces the ACC Network.
“He did the tournament, and so now I’m doing the tournament for essentially the same company, offshoot three times, but, yeah, that’s pretty neat,” he said.
Speaking before the night’s games, Durham spoke with his hallmark clarity and resonance, his voice and demeanor not betraying his loss. It was to be a heavy night. There was to be a moment of silence in his father’s honor, and Durham was to accept the ACC’s Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award on his father’s behalf.
“I hope I make him proud,” Durham said. “I hope that people will take some solace or comfort in it.”