Pink Grandmas never give up on the Utah Jazz — or each other

First Published      Last Updated May 03 2017 11:14 pm

The Pacific separated them in WWII; now, nearly nothing can keep them apart if their beloved team is on the court.

Murray • Yeiko Homma didn't smile for nearly three hours Sunday afternoon.

She didn't say more than a sentence at a time, and her eyes barely left the television, even during commercial breaks. Almost the only contact she had with the outside world was through her hands: Her left hand stroked the fur of Chibi, the family schnauzer sitting in her lap. Her right hand was clasped to that of her sister, Keiko Mori, who sat in a wheelchair beside her, equally intent.

For Homma, 92, and Mori, 88, being fans of the Utah Jazz is serious business.

Sure, they've been known for their smiling faces and wispy crowns of white hair in Section 7, Row 12, where they've become as much a part of Vivint Smart Home Arena as the bleachers they occupy. But when the game is on, so are they, following with focus — pausing only to clap during a Jazz basket or an opponent's error.

As Raymond Felton bricked a shot in the second half of Game 7 of the Jazz-Clippers series Sunday afternoon, Homma shouted: "Go and miss some more."

They're called the Pink Grandmas for their attire, and, for the past 20 years, they've charmed the Jazz faithful — and the players and coaches — with their loyalty, sense of humor and the way they stick out from the crowd despite being half as tall as the players for whom they cheer.

Beyond their novelty, the sisters — born and reared half a world apart — aren't just dedicated to the Jazz, but to each other. When Mori went to Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) for seven days last week, Homma joined her by her bedside, donning pink Gordon Hayward jerseys to cheer for the Jazz the same way they have for two decades.

The women were at Mori's Murray home Sunday, surrounded by a dozen family members. Wherever Mori watches, that's where Homma watches.

"We go together," Homma said. "That's how we do it."

'I know you, Pink Lady' • The Utah Jazz hosted a fan meetup with recently added team members not long after the 2014 NBA draft. Dante Exum was there. Rudy Gobert was there.

The Pink Grandmas had one of the longest lines for pictures.

"We had no idea that they had such a following until a few years ago," said Theresa Sueoka, one of Mori's four children. "There's not a game that goes by where I don't get a text from a friend, 'Oh, I saw your mom.' "

The 20-year season-ticket holders have accumulated enough local celebrity that they're just as in demand for pictures as anyone else in a Jazz uniform. Their aisle seats are visited by fellow Jazz loyalists, they've starred in a commercial for Jazz season tickets and they frequently are recognized on the street, whether they're wearing their signature pink jerseys or not.

More than a few fans have donned white perm wigs and pink shirts in homage. So has the Jazz Bear.

"Other than Jerry Sloan," radio play-by-play man David Locke said, "they get the loudest applause when they're on the JumboTron."

Mori and Homma started wearing pink to be seen. It started for only one person to keep track of where they were. A family friend, Brad Nakamura, bought them pink jackets so he could see them from his seat across from the basket.

More and more people took notice, including coaches and players. Among the most frequent visitors to Section 7 are Locke and Becky Lindsey, the wife of Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey. Mori said she recently ran into Sloan, the former Jazz coach, in public — they share an audiologist.

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