Grizzly fan and mother of two, Malenda Harris Meacham is totally enjoying her 15 minutes of fame. Last year voted the NBA’s Fan of the Year for her wild cheering on the bongo cam, her popularity this year has skyrocketed.
You’ll find this petite attorney in the stands at the FedEx Forum most home games (she's been a season ticket holder for the past eight years), cheering on the Grizz and doing her crazy thang on the bongo cam. Fans love her enthusiasm, and it’s garnered her local and national press, with a story in the New York Times in April and an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America.
Her enthusiasm is infectious, but it was the way her teenage son responded to her dancing that made her videos classic. When the Grizzlies introduced the bongo cam three years ago, Meacham started rocking out. What made it funnier was her son Hayden’s reaction. He showed typical teen disdain, distancing himself with an eye roll, physically moving away from his mom, and at one point, even appearing on camera with a bag over his head.
“When that happened, his phone started blowing up with texts from his friends saying how funny they thought it was,” says Meacham with a laugh. “I think he dies a little inside each time I do it.”
The videos went viral because everyone can relate to how teens are so embarrassed by their parents. Yet Meacham followed her passion, and thanks to bongo cam, is now on a first-name basis with players Marc Gasol, John Moore, and Tony Allen, who calls Bongo Lady ‘my home girl.’
“They’re all so nice. Before the game they’ll come and hug on my neck. What I love about the Grizz is that they’re not snooty players, they’re real people who connect with their fans. Our city is so lucky to have that.”
Attending games in the rowdy FedEx Forum provides a welcome release from her more button-down career as a family law attorney and part-time judge in Hernando, Mississippi. But why bongo cam? “Everyone’s plays air guitar, well, I always wanted to drums.”
So what are some take-aways from Meacham's passionate choice to dance like no one's watching?
• Live life with passion. I’m a very intense person, no matter what it is. I want my kids to pursue their interests with passion, too. My daughter, Hannah (16), has done that with her dance and my son Hayden (18) with his academics.
• Be curious about the world. I love to travel because it broadens our worldview. I think it’s important because you have to lose your prejudice and bigotry. We travel to broaden our horizons.
• Be compassionate and empathetic. These are the most essential ingredients of life, because that’s ultimately what brings us happiness, doing for others.