If you're inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, you can't help but notice it.
No, it is not Zion Williamson’s gargantuan frame whizzing by. It’s not even head coach Mike Krzyzewski's hefty golden ring(s).
It’s an old baby.
Duke’s line monitors who run the arena’s student section have passed down the baby doll with blue horns and a rip in her leg for decades. Cameron, nicknamed “Cammy,” has been used in cheers that millions have seen on ESPN and viral videos.
Opposing players take notice and wink. Jack White stops by to give her a kiss. Antonio Vrankovic even headbutts her.
“It’s nice she gets so much love for being such an ugly child,” said senior Alexa Moses, her current mother.
Cammy gets passed down from line monitor to line monitor every year, Moses said—and certain characteristics make for a suitable mother.
“You have to be really enthusiastic because people like seeing the baby,” Moses said. “You have to be okay with little kids and parents wanting to take photos with it. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Time has left its mark on Cammy—leaving a tear in her right knee, that line monitors have unsuccessfully patched, and a slightly frayed white Duke bib around her neck. She’s been through a lot, including getting slapped in the head in a ESPN clip that went viral.
The clip from Duke’s game against Tennessee State in 2016 shows Cammy’s ex-mother, then-junior Sara Constand, slapping Cammy in the head.
“Are we really just gonna sit here and pretend like this woman was not just slapping the s*** out of her baby?!,” read a tweet caption for the video, which has been viewed nearly 4.5 million times in the one tweet alone and has made the rounds on YouTube as well.
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“I was hitting her head solely because it is difficult to clap and hold her,” Constand, Trinity ‘18 and former co-head line monitor, wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “Many of the Duke chants involve clapping, and if you don't have free hands it’s easier to make a sound using the plastic of her head.”
Just after the Tennessee State game, Constand was driving home for winter break when her phone rang at 7 a.m. It was a friend from high school.
“Sara you are all over Twitter,” he said.
The messages kept flooding in for her entire eight-hour car ride home.
For Christmas, Constand’s boyfriend, also a line monitor, made Cammy a Duke helmet that she wore to games in the spring.
More than two years later, Constand wrote she gets still tagged in the video a couple times per month. Many of her new medical school peers had already seen the video when she brought it up.
Cammy also has younger fans that may not be on social media. Constand would walk over to a young fan that particularly adored Cammy and sit courtside with her parents to let her hold Cammy during the games.
The players also are Cammy fanatics, both Constand and Moses noted. Junior Jack White sometimes gives her a kiss. Seven-foot, 269-pound center Antonio Vrankovic likes to headbutt her, Moses said.
A big hit with the kids and players alike, Cammy also stars in chants. One of the more prominent ones comes when Cammy’s mother holds her up and the Cameron Crazies chant “Oh, baby!”
“It really freaks players out when we put our hands out and go 'Oh' and the baby’s there,” Moses said. “I see the opposing team seeing me. They’ll look at the baby. I’m like I see you, and they’ll wink at me. And I’m like, okay.”
Cammy hasn’t changed much over the years, Moses said, donning the same outfit over time. A staffer at Cameron Indoor bought her another outfit, but it doesn’t fit her quite right, Moses said.
“She’s a pretty abnormally sized baby. Very large,” Moses said. “My mom tried to buy her shoes, but her feet are too fat.”
The stitches in her knee have grown bigger—a “battle wound” that probably needs to be sewn back up, Moses said.
“Her legs are really the weak part of her body,” Moses said.
In spite of her wounds, she’s still feisty.
“She’s very animated. She’s very scary,” Moses said. “She has a bit of a twitch in one eye sometimes.”
Now after Duke’s last home game of the season, Moses said she knows who she will likely pass Cammy onto, but won’t reveal that publicly yet.
“It’s one of those weird things,” Moses said. “A weird tradition for the Cameron Crazies—let’s have a baby doll and draw horns on it!”
Correction: This article previously stated the baby was 25 years old, but it is younger—approximately 12. The Chronicle regrets the error.