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Calipari enjoys beating generational poverty

John Calipari with John Wall at Big Blue Madness Friday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

John Calipari with John Wall at Big Blue Madness Friday. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky coach John Calipari constantly talks about how difficult the head job at UK can be on a coach because of the pressure and demands on the head coach.

“What this job does is every morning you wake up to put your feet in your car, you sit down in that chair and say my team has a chance to win the national title. That’s every year. You know you do,” Calipari said. “The second part of this job that keeps you going and makes you excited is at no other time in the history of our sport has a program done what we’re doing for players. You can all say what you want.

“Twenty-eight kids, four a year for seven years, have been drafted. Two others are in the league that weren’t drafted. You’re talking about 80 percent of the kids. You’re talking Rookie of the Years. You’re talking All-Stars. You’re talking kids that are giving back to the community, that are role models, that are doing things, that are making us proud, that are coming back to us to help us, to be involved, or they need help.

“Can you work me out in the gym?

 The stuff that’s happened, if we can keep this going, it keeps me young because nothing excites me more than seeing young people get better, seeing young people grow up.”

He recently reminded media members that DeMarcus Cousins’ mother was in tears when he was drafted by Sacramento in 2010 when she called him. He thought something had happened. Instead, she told him they were tears of job.

“She said, ‘I just moved into my new house. I’m standing in the living room. Coach, it’s unbelievable. I’ve got a rug on the floor. I’ve got furniture. I’m looking out the window, and I see the ninth green,'” Calipari said.

He asked her why she was living on a golf course. She told him because for the first time, she could.

“Generational poverty, most of us don’t know what that means. But these kids, not all of them, but a lot of them, this is the opportunity for their family, and I don’t take it lightly,” Calipari said.

1 comment

  1. TrueBlueJohn

    Larry, sometimes we lose sight of what is really important in life, and this article brings that thought home for me. As a long-time member of BBN, I am like a lot of other Cat basketball fans in wanting to hang another Championship banner in the rafters of Rupp. Cal is unlike any other coach that we have had in that it is not his main goal. He wants to win championships, but he really wants to change the lives of the young men and their families. He not only teaches them basketball, but he tries to make them better human beings, and I applaud him for that. The story of Cal asking Demarcus Cousins’ mom of why she was living on a golf course really struck me. It is a fundamental change in people’s lives.

    Another thing about Cal’s approach to his job is the way that he deals with recruits. How many times have we heard recruits speak of him telling them the truth, and not giving them promises just to get them to commit. Kids know when someone is being honest with them. I for one am happy that he is our coach, and hope he is here for several more years to come.

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