A Sacramento Kings super-fan is receiving a prestigious honor. ESPN announced today that Barbara Rust, better known as the “Kings Sign Lady”, will be inducted into its Fan Hall of Fame.
Rust and the two other inductees received more than 85,000 votes each. Fans were allowed to vote up to three times a day when balloting began. Voting started on Dec. 2 and concluded last week on Dec. 11.
“Barbara truly represents the spirit of the Sacramento Kings in so many ways,” Kings owner Vivek Ranadive said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire Kings organization, I congratulate her on this special honor.”
Rust is among three inductees in this year’s class. Along with Arkansas Razorbacks super-fan Canaan Pierce and the “Georgia Joker” Pierce Wallace, Rust will be inducted during a special ceremony taking place in Bristol, CT next year. Details of when the induction takes place have yet to be announced.
“The inductees received outstanding support from their teams, communities and fellow fans throughout the voting period,” Jeffrey Gonyo, senior director of sports marketing at ESPN, said in a statement issued by the Kings. ”We look forward to bringing Barbara, Canaan and Pierce to our headquarters to honor their passion and dedication.”
Rust and her husband Niko are well-known fixtures at Kings games since the team first arrived in Sacramento in 1985. Her handcrafted signs, which don’t unnoticed by the players, include messages of support and encouragement for the home team.
“Barbara has been a tremendous part of our team for many years, and she fully demonstrates why Sacramento has the best fan base in the NBA,” Kings President Chris Granger said in a prepared statement. “She embodies the determination and perseverance of Sacramento, and we are proud of her induction into the ESPN Hall of Fame.”
Update (6:28 pm)
Rust sent out this message, thanking everyone for their support:
I’m very proud that Sacramento Kings Fans have once again been recognized for the passion, loyalty, and LOVE we feel for our team and our great city.
Because it was my fellow fans who nominated and “got out the vote” for me, the honor of being selected to the ESPN Fan Hall of Fame is one I share with EVERY Sacramento Kings fan around the world.
I continue to be amazed by the strength and unity of our extended Family which includes: Fans, all former and current Kings players, Kings employees, Sacramento Media, Mayor Johnson and other City Officials, and our wonderful new ownership group.
Just look at what our Kings Family has recently accomplished:
1) We kept our team in Sacramento.
2) We set a record for the loudest indoor crowd roar.
3) We voted one of our own into the ESPN Fan Hall of Fame.
I have often been called the “face of the fans” and I accept that as a huge compliment because I see myself as representing ALL OF YOU! Although we express ourselves as fans in different ways, we all have the same goal, to support our team through thick and thin. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re still here and our spirits have never been broken!
I’m very grateful for your support, prayers and good wishes especially the past few months. The “Love For Sign Lady” has meant so much to me and my family in my journey of healing from cancer. Every Kings game is medicine for me.
I do have one request. Let’s focus our attention now on voting Sacramento Kings players into the NBA All-Star Game.
Thanks for making this holiday season a very special one.
LONG LIVE THE KINGS!