Why it will never be about “Just Basketball” at Kentucky

Late nights and early mornings for these boys are a traditional part of being a Basketball player at Kentucky, but so is passing out Thanksgiving dinner each year. After a game late last night, these boys woke up this morning to do something for someone else. The Salvation Army received meals from the team and Coach Cal today.

Check out some awesome photos from @KentuckyMBB on twitter.

I would suggest to all of you, if you have a chance, bring somebody in your home. Make somebody else’s day. Take them food. Do something neat. Cal said. I will tell you all to have a great day tomorrow. I’m going to say this on the radio, and hopefully you guys will do this. If you’re having Thanksgiving dinner, there’s got to be someone in your community that you know is alone. Either bring them food, knock on their door, or have them come to your house and eat. Got to be some woman, some mother, you know they’re alone.

And that’s exactly what the boys did.

I told them this. I said, “Look, how many of you grew up where you didn’t have much?” I said, “When I see someone homeless or I see someone that’s struggling, I say, only by the grace of God that’s not me.” Where I came from, how I was brought up, it could have been me. Cal stated.

Cal also had some inspiring words after last nights game for the boys also that didn’t involve basketball but was all Thanksgiving.

“I talked to them after the game. Really said very little about the game. Talked about Thanksgiving. I just said to the team, “How many of you in this room understand how thankful you need to be? I hope you understand. I mean, how did you get that body you have? You haven’t done anything for this. It’s been given to you.”

So for all of us to be thankful and talk to these players about that — we’re going to the Salvation Army. We’re going to serve food tomorrow. The Lundergan family has done it for 30 years. Jerry is going to let us be a part of it. I appreciate him. He’s a good friend of mine. But I want them to feel. When we do the Christmas stuff where we bring in 12 families and we pay two months’ rent, do you know what those mothers do when they players give them the rent check for two months? They cry. They cry. I wanted my players to see that. Do you understand the impact by doing something little, by having an impact on somebody else?

But the only way you can be grateful or be that way is be thankful and be grateful because most of the stuff we have is not earned or deserved, it just happened that it’s us and it’s not him. He had a break the wrong way. I had a break the right way. Only by the grace of God that’s not me.

This is a good time for a young team because these kids most of their life to this point — what have they thought about? themselves. What did they dream about? Themselves. Now all of a sudden you’re put in this position where you can have an impact.

It’s why I love the fact when I read about my guys in the league, in the NBA. Not even those guys, even a Jon Hood. You see guys that maybe aren’t in the league, but you see what they’re doing in communities and how they’re being involved. I mean, this is the great thing about coaching here at Kentucky.

I’ve got to be grateful. I told them that. Can you imagine? There’s no reason I should be the Kentucky coach. You had people try to stop me from getting this job. There is no reason I should be the Kentucky coach. And I am. Now all of a sudden we got 30, 40 kids in the NBA. We’re having an impact on kids’ lives and families. I shouldn’t be the coach. As a player, I was small, but I was slow. I’m coaching at Kentucky. I mean, for me, you know, just being thankful about that. I told them that. I’m able to put all of you on a stage where you have a chance to change the rest of your lives and the dimension of your family and the direction of your family by being in this program.

I said this. I’m not trying to get on a soapbox, even though I am. 2,600 homeless in our city – are you kidding me? Lexington, Kentucky, one of the wealthiest cities. We have 2,600 homeless? I want my kids to know that. Then you have a chance to have an impact on stuff. How do you do it? What are you going to do? Cal reiterated after last nights win.

It’s a great thing about this state. I’ve never been anywhere that people have bigger hearts and make it about community. They don’t talk about a city. They talk about a county. That’s what it is. Coach said and he’s exactly right. It’s a #BBNFamily here in Kentucky.

Now they will go back to Cal’s place to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with one another. So, today one of the many things I’m thankful for is that our boys will always be different. Our boys are special and nothing can change that. We have a great group of guys.


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