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By LARRY VAUGHT
It’s still hard for me to believe that G.J. Smith is gone. The former University of Kentucky basketball player died of a heart attack at age 59 Friday.
I knew him for about 40 years. He came to UK from Laurel County as part of the Super Kittens at the same time I was in school. He played in 49 games over three seasons from 1972 to 1975 and scored 149 points and had 93 rebounds. If there had been a 3-point shot at the time, he would have played even more because he was a terrific shooter.
After he left UK, he returned home and became a teacher, baseball coach (he was inducted into the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame) and basketball coach at Laurel County. Once his coaching days ended, he became the athletics director. He’s been nominated for the Dawahares/Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame and should be included there as well because of his many contributions to high school sports.
He retired in 2008 and I had not crossed paths with him very often since then. But he was still one of the guys I loved to share stories with and loved to be around. He always treated me with respect, and always deserved to be treated with respect. He was an intense competitor and coach, but he was also always willing to help anyone.
For more information on visitation and the funeral, go to HouseRawlings.com for updated information.
If you have a favorite G.J. Smith memory, please share it here.