To the average Southern Miss baseball fan, the relationship between senior J.C. Keys and junior Matthew Guidry would seem to be nothing more than teammates. However, the reality is the two Golden Eagles refer to each other as brothers.
Before baseball was involved the duo sat next to each other in class throughout grade school and have been inseparable ever since.
“We were in the same class in kindergarten and we sat by each other. At that age you are just kind of messing around and just having fun,” Keys said. “He’s just been my best friend ever since then. That’s kind of where it all started.”
As time went on the duo began playing little league against each other until they were reunited on Oak Grove Middle School’s seventh and eighth grade baseball team.
“At that age, you can’t really drive or anything so you’re not really able to hang out with whoever you want, you are kind of subject to who is in your class,” Guidry said. “We were with each other pretty much all the time with practice and everything. From there on out it was just an all year thing.”
Keys and Guidry spent more time together as they moved into high school and began playing at Oak Grove High School for head baseball coach Chris McCardle. Both of the former Warriors knew they wanted to be Golden Eagles.
In 2014 Southern Miss Associate Head Coach Chad Caillet watched the duo play on a summer team between their junior and senior seasons. An offer was first made to Guidry who hit .322 with 12 RBIs and 19 runs scored during his junior season. After the Oak Grove vs. Petal series during their senior season Keys received a similar call from Caillet.
“Caillet came and recruited us that summer,” Keys said. “He [Guidry] got offered that summer and then we went into baseball season my senior year and Caillet came to watch me a couple of times. It was the Petal series and I threw one game and he offered me later that night. I called him right back and I committed right then and there because I knew I wanted to come to Southern Miss.”
The previous school year Keys’ mother decided it was best for him to move in with Guidry and his family due to instability at home which affected his performance both on and off the field.
“My performance on the baseball field was dropping, my grades were dropping and my mom saw that,” Keys said. “She took it upon herself to do something tough for her which is to give away her baby boy.”
According to Guidry’s mother, Marina Little, there was no discussion for the Littles about whether or not Keys should live with them.
“The offer was made to see if we could do anything to help the situation and make it a little more stable. It ended up that he stayed with us,” Little said. “It kind of happened organically. He could stay as long as he wanted to stay and ever since then he’s just been our son.”
Keys has continued to have a relationship with his family. Despite ups and downs he still spends time with his mother whether it is going to eat or just hanging out.
“I like to say our family is like gumbo. We are a blended family,” Little said. “Everybody supports everybody. There’s no division there. We are family and that doesn’t have to do with anything except loving each other and being a family.”
For Guidry having Keys around the house was nothing out of the ordinary.
“We were just kind of going with the flow and then one week turned into two weeks, two weeks turned into a month and by that point, the comfort level and the questions took care of itself. We’ve just been clicking ever since,” Guidry said.
Even though the duo has lived together since high school their favorite place to spend time together is on the baseball diamond.
“I’ve just enjoyed being on the field and being together pretty much 24/7,” Guidry said. “We live together still, we are still roommates and like we spend a lot of time together as it is but it’s something about being on the field at practice or a game that’s pretty special times and its pretty cool to take in,”
With Keys finishing his final season as a Golden Eagle, Little is unsure of what the future holds for the pair. In 2017 Keys and Guidry played on different summer league teams which separated them for the first time since middle school. Little said they spent the summer video calling in order to stay in touch.
“They have never not played together. They live together, they’ve done everything together,” Little said. “They have a personal relationship I might not know everything about but they have always been there for each other.”
Southern Miss will travel to Biloxi for the Conference USA tournament on Wednesday.