Akira Levy never imagined her basketball career at the University of Missouri would lead to an opportunity to excel in both her passions at once.
But that’s exactly what happened Thursday night when country music star Kenny Chesney called her onto the stage to join him in a rendition of his hit song “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”
Levy belted out the tune’s chorus, much to the delight of a packed Mizzou Arena crowd. A video of her singing posted by her team’s official Twitter page has since been viewed over 100,000 times.
“I’m definitely still in shock,” Levy said of the experience. “I can’t stop looking at all the things that are going on right now on social media; it’s pretty cool.”
The moment was another milestone in Levy’s already-impressive MU career. A point guard out of Baxter, Tennessee, she was a multi-faceted player for the Tigers this past season. She provided a spark off the bench and explosiveness at point guard that Missouri has lacked in recent seasons.
After she tore her ACL and meniscus in her right knee against Auburn on Feb. 24, Levy provided a different kind of spark, using her voice and intensity to lift her teammates’ spirits from the sideline.
Missouri fans already knew Levy could sing — she gave a stirring rendition of the national anthem at her team’s final home game of the season March 3 and sang the same tune at a softball game April 20 — but Chesney did not. When he visited with Levy and her teammates prior to his performance Thursday night, Levy sang the chorus of his own song to him.
He was impressed.
“We took a picture and I sang (“She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”) and he was like, ‘Your voice is beautiful,’” she said.
Chesney gave the team front-row tickets to his concert. When he sang the tune during his set, he looked right at Levy. She did the rest.
“He looked at me because he knew that was the song that I loved, and I was like, ‘This is my song! This is my song!’ and he was like, “I know, I know,’” she said. “And then he pointed to the stage and told me to walk around to get on the stage. So I just went up there and he was like, ‘Alright, here it goes’ and I was like, ‘Alright, here we go.’”
There was no hint of nervousness in Levy’s voice, even though she was singing in front of the largest audience of her life and leaning on crutches. But that’s not surprising when considering the ability she demonstrated in big games this season.
“Honestly, I don’t really get nervous or much of anything, really,” she said. “I just do it.”
Levy said she’s received all kinds of texts and messages from friends back home in Tennessee asking about her performance, and she’s still riding high on the experience. But her primary focus right now is her rehabilitation so she can get back to starring in her primary talent: basketball.
But don’t think there wasn’t a temptation to embrace her inner rock star even more than she did.
“I told my trainer I was going to just throw my crutches into the crowd and just start walking, but he didn’t like that too much,” she said.
Supervising editor is Reed Koutelas: email@example.com, 882-5730.