“Been told a long time ago.” – Little Richard
Another vessel of my 80’s youth passed away unexpectedly recently.
An endless bundle of high energy wrapped inside of a dog costume with an Oklahoma University basketball uniform, Kenny “Top Daug” Evans died on June 14th. Widely considered the best to ever wear the popular mascot costume, Evans was The Top Daug. Evans entertained the crowd when Billy Tubbs and the Oklahoma Sooners were one of the most dominant basketball programs in the country in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The Sooners had made the transition from underdogs to top dogs. My dad was a part of that ride for six seasons from 1984-1990 so I witnessed first hand some great basketball, but also one of the best mascots ever.
“Top Daug” was retired in 2004 in favor of the two pony mascots, “Boomer” and “Sooner,” but in 2020 the university un-retired Top Daug and the popular mascot was back roaming the sidelines, pulling on his ears, and slippin’ and slidin’ his way into the hearts of a whole new generation.
I reconnected with Kenny via Facebook many years ago where I followed along his adventures living in Phoenix. His posts promoted his faith and his family and friends, and many of his posts featured his youngest son Kieron, who just finished sixth grade. Any age is a tough age to lose your dad, but I know Kieron will keep the wonderful memories of Kenny with him forever just as those of us that were around him even for the briefest moment will do as well. It was a brief moment indeed as Kenny first wore the Top Daug costume beginning in the 1987 season becoming a local celebrity. He wore it through 1990 and then again several years later when Kelvin Sampson asked him to put the costume back on during the 2002-03 season.
My parents kept a photo album from a going away party that their friends and colleagues had for them when my dad left OU in 1990. It was a 50’s themed party, and making an appearance at that party was one Kenny Evans. He didn’t show up as “Top Daug,” but instead as Little Richard, and it always made my dad laugh to look back at pictures of Kenny from that party.
My last correspondence with Kenny was last August just after my dad passed away. He reached out to me through Facebook…
Hey Kyle! Kenny Evans here. Man! I didn’t know that Coach passed away. OMG! This is a shocker. This hurts. How’s Mom and how are you all doing? Please accept my prayers and condolences. Coach was such an Amazing Man and a gentle spirit. He helped my mascot career so much because he inspires me with his smiles, laughs and stories.
8/17/21, 2:00 PM
Thanks so much Kenny. He loved you and you were always “The” Top Daug. He always laughed thinking about you coming to his 50’s going away party dressed like Little Richard. Thanks so much for reaching out.
Sending Big Hugs to you all!!
Kenny wrote how my dad “inspired” him. Well, for friends, family, and those that just had the good fortune to be witness to Kenny’s many performances through the years (he was also “Boomer,” the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival mascot, “Globie” for the Harlem Globetrotters, and “Sergeant Slammer” for the Oklahoma City Cavalry of the Continental Basketball Association), I know that Kenny inspired many many people during his life as well.
For those of you not familiar, this old story about Kenny as “Top Daug” will give you a good idea…
Also, as an OU fan, the end of this video sucks watching the Kansas Jayhawks win the national championship game against OU, but Kenny can be seen opening the video at the five second mark and my dad almost gets run over by a Villanova player diving for the ball at the 29 second mark, so this video will always be special to me.
Take care and thanks for reading. RIP Kenny.