Father of Brothers Facing Off in NCAA Final Says Family Has 'Already Won'

The brothers played against each other in the championship.

ByEMILY SHAPIRO
April 4, 2016, 5:43 PM

— -- For the Britt family, tonight's NCAA championship game is especially personal. That's because brothers Kris Jenkins and Nate Britt will face off for Villanova and North Carolina, respectively.

"It's one of the best feelings I could have ever imagined," dad Nate Britt Sr. told ABC News today, hours before the big game. "I love basketball so much. And to see my boys out there competing for national championship against one another, I couldn't think of anything better than that."

Though Kris and Nate aren't brothers by blood, they've lived together since they were both about 11 years old, when Kris was adopted by the Britt family.

Britt Sr. said it was basketball that brought the boys together. Nate first met Kris in Florida, where they played against each other in a tournament. They formed a bond, and Kris later came to spend the summer with the Britt family in Maryland, playing for an AAU basketball team coached by Britt Sr.

Kris' mother, Felicia Jenkins, eventually got a job at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, according to the AP. But she didn't want to move her son away from the team he loved, the AP reported. So Jenkins called Britt Sr. "and asked if Kris could stay with us," he recalled.

PHOTO: North Carolina guard Nate Britt chases a loose ball against Providence during the second half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, March 19, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C.
North Carolina guard Nate Britt chases a loose ball against Providence during the second half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, March 19, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C.
Chuck Burton/AP Photo

"She understood what my vision was for our kids ... trying to get them in college, get their academics strong ... she understood I pretty much run a tight ship," Britt Sr. said. "What mother would give up their child unless they needed some help?"

He consulted with his two children first. "I told my kids, 'If Kris moves in with us you have to split everything that you have 50/50 with Kris," he said. "And both of them agreed that wouldn't be a problem."

The Britts ended up becoming Kris' legal guardians in 2007. "And Kris has been with us ever since," Britt Sr. said.

Britt Sr. said the boys "were super competitive" growing up.

"But they always took care of one another," he said. "The one thing about Kris and Nate, they love each other."

Stephen Turner, the boys' basketball coach at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., told ABC News today that Kris and Nate were both leaders and "very, very hardworking."

They "pushed each other to become better" and "care about each other tremendously," according to Turner.

"Just watching the dynamic that was, I think, so unique. When they were on the floor ... always knowing each other's next move ... To not be blood brothers, but to come and play like they were, is pretty unique," Turner said. "Even at times coaching it, you became enamored as a fan ... watching how well they fed off each other and played off each other."

PHOTO: Villanova forward Kris Jenkins reacts to play against Oklahoma during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game, April 2, 2016, in Houston
Villanova forward Kris Jenkins reacts to play against Oklahoma during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game, April 2, 2016, in Houston.
David J. Phillip/AP Photo

Britt Sr. said his family has traveled all over, from Louisville to Maryland to Philadelphia and back again, to watch both sons play in the NCAA tournament.

"Basketball is such a huge part of their life ... but these are great young men," Britt Sr. said. "They're better men than they are basketball players."

As for Kris' mother, she's thrilled that the situation turned out so well. "When we made the decision to move ... we did not know that it was going to be like this," Jenkins told ABC News today. "We just made a decision to put him in a more stable and safe environment."

She added: "We're just happy ... it's taken off. And became something that we had not even [fathomed] it would have become.... [We're] so blessed with the whole situation and very humbled about it."

Jenkins will be in the stands tonight to cheer both boys on.

Britt Sr. added ahead of the game, "We already won. We won when Villanova won ... and North Carolina won. I just want to enjoy the game."

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