The Edmond Sun
OKLA. CITY —
When her classmates ask what 10-year-old Olivia Kay got to do during the summer, she’ll have a heck of an answer: I got to sing for Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith on national TV.
Tuesday evening in the Chesapeake Arena, the Oklahoma City Thunder put a 105-92 woodshed whoopin’ on the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
Before the game, Olivia, a Charles Haskell Elementary fifth grader during the last academic year, got to sing the “National Anthem” for the sell-out crowd in the 18,203-seat arena. It was an encore performance. She sang the anthem during the OKC-Memphis playoff series.
However, the national TNT audience didn’t get to see her sing before Tuesday’s game.
Charlie Kay, Olivia’s father, said after the game he and his wife Heather were ready to leave after their busy days at work. Owen, Olivia’s twin brother, wanted to get autographs from the guys on the “Inside the NBA” set.
Owen and Olivia made their way through the fans surrounding the set. During a commercial break, Olivia made eye contact with Barkley and mouthed a request for an autograph on her game program. She’s a huge Thunder fan and had seen the TNT program before.
“I knew Shaq and Charles, but I didn’t know the other guy,” Olivia said, referring to Smith, who was a member of the 1988 NBA All Rookie Team and won two NBA championships with the Houston Rockets.
The guys recognized Olivia as the girl who sang before the game. She was hoisted onto the set and they signed her program. Barkley wanted her to sing on the show, she said.
“I thought I was just going to get their signatures,” Olivia said.
After a commercial break, Johnson said it was a shame the TV audience didn’t get to hear Olivia sing the “National Anthem.”
“She’s a superstar. She’s from Edmond, Okla.,” Shaq said.
Microphone in hand, Olivia performed British singer Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” While she was singing a cappella Barkley, Shaq, Smith and Johnson were obviously enjoying themselves, moving to the beat. Barkley was listening intently.
When she finished, Smith and Shaq praised her by having her sign an imaginary contract. The guys led the fans nearby in chanting “MVP, MVP, MVP.” Shaq gave her a high five. One of her parents told her she was on TV.
“I thought ‘Oh my gosh, we got on TV,’” Olivia said.
Her parents were rightly proud and impressed with how the TNT crew treated her. As they were leaving the arena, people asked to be photographed with the Edmond singing sensation.
“She was on cloud nine,” Heather said.
Charlie said he was proud and nervous at the same time.
“I had a moment there of ‘I can’t believe this is really happening,’” he said.
Heather said after Olivia was singing Whitney Houston-type scales when she was 7-years-old, she got her vocal lessons. In addition to the two appearances at Thunder games, she appeared on “The View” earlier this year. She said she has a career plan.
“I really want to be a pop singer because that’s what I like to sing,” she said.
Charlie said Olivia has a knack for making moments like this happen. If the Thunder make it to the NBA Finals, who knows, maybe she’ll get to sing again.
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