Vaught’s note: After this story was posted, I found out that Jeff Stahl passed away today. However, now in his honor and memory, I am goin to leave his story here for all to see and also to know that John Calipari’s kindness came just in time to leave one more good memory for this life-long UK fan and his brother.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Somtimes there are moments that both remind you just how special University of Kentucky basketball can be along with how precious every day should be.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why I wanted to share this story from Kentucky fan Pat Stahl.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My brother Jeff is dying with cancer. He is only 54 years old and we have been traveling to every Final Four since 1993,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Stahl. Ã¢â‚¬Å“W were in Louisville on New YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Eve and had the opportunity to meet coach Cal (when UK beat Louisville). My brother lives in Hawaii. We were there, of course, for the Maui Classic.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When we were in Louisville he complained of tightness in his neck and when he returned to Hawaii he was diagnosed with Melanoma cancer and given only three months to live. He has sinced moved back to Kentucky. Our family is from Maysville and was at my house in LexingtonÃ‚Â when we beat North Carolina to go to the Final Four.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Before the game he said to me, Ã¢â‚¬ËœI just need one more Final Four.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Coach cal and the team gave him that. We made the trip to Houston. Even hough we lost it was my my most cherished Final Four. He is now in Central Baptist Hospital and not doing very well.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Pat Stahl, who is four years younger than his brother, said growing up in Maysville they both always followed Kentucky. They got inspired when UK made the 1993 Final Four and went to watch when the Cats lost to Michigan to start their Final Four run.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Every year after that, Jeff would book a room at the site of the Final Four so we would have it,Ã¢â‚¬Â Pat Stahl, who also went to the Great Alaska Shootout in 1997 to watch UK with his brother, said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Then we had the great run of three straight Final Fours (1996 to 1998).Ã¢â‚¬Â
They also went together to the 1994 John Wooden Classic Ã¢â‚¬â€ Ã¢â‚¬Å“Jeff travels and gets a lot of free air tickets so I could go,Ã¢â‚¬Â Pat Stahl said Ã¢â‚¬â€ and had a memorable time. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I go to Cincinnati to get on the plane and they said I could not have my first class seat,Ã¢â‚¬Â Stahl said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Then here comes Rick (Pitino) and the whole Kentucky team getting on the plane. I sat next to Father Bradley and Richard Pitino. My daughter was just born a few months before and sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s had four open heart surgeries. RickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s son had died not long before that. He came back and sat next to me and talked. It was great. I still love Rick Pitino, too. Rick let us come down before the UCLA game and then in 1996 when we went to New York for the Final Four, we got to meet the whole Pitino family again. Jeff and I got a private moment with Rick and he even signed by Final Four ticket. It was great.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had that great run of three straight Final Fours, including the one with Tubby Smith, before we hit that dry spell that Calipari ended this year that meant so much to my brother.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Calipari is doing more for StahlÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brother, too. When his office heard about Jeff Stahl, it let Pat know he was in CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thoughts and prayers.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He wanted an address so he could send a note to Jeff,Ã¢â‚¬Â Pat Stahl said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I really appreciated the response and I understand his schedule right now might now allow him to visit, but just knowing he would send a note meant the world to me and will to Jeff also. Jeff is a special guyÃ‚Â who loves UK basketball and this just shows me how special Calipari is, too.Ã¢â‚¬Â
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s prayers for Jeff Stahl from myself and vaughtviews.com readers.