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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.

That’s why I wanted to share this story from Kentucky fan Pat Stahl.

“My brother Jeff is dying with cancer. He is only 54 years old and we have been traveling to every Final Four since 1993,” said Stahl. “W were in Louisville on New Year’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.

“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 Lexington  when we beat North Carolina to go to the Final Four.

“Before the game he said to me, ‘I just need one more Final Four.’ 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.”

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.

“Every year after that, Jeff would book a room at the site of the Final Four so we would have it,” Pat Stahl, who also went to the Great Alaska Shootout in 1997 to watch UK with his brother, said. “Then we had the great run of three straight Final Fours (1996 to 1998).”

They also went together to the 1994 John Wooden Classic — “Jeff travels and gets a lot of free air tickets so I could go,” Pat Stahl said — and had a memorable time. “I go to Cincinnati to get on the plane and they said I could not have my first class seat,” Stahl said. “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 she’s had four open heart surgeries. Rick’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.

“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.”

Calipari is doing more for Stahl’s brother, too. When his office heard about Jeff Stahl, it let Pat know he was in Calipari’s thoughts and prayers.

“He wanted an address so he could send a note to Jeff,” Pat Stahl said. “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 guy  who loves UK basketball and this just shows me how special Calipari is, too.”

Here’s prayers for Jeff Stahl from myself and vaughtviews.com readers.

31 Responses to ‘One more Final Four’ extra special to Kentucky fan this time — and so is Calipari’s response

  • Angela Carter says:

    Larry, I just went to Central Baptist’s website, and they provide the e-card service for their patients. It’s such an easy way to let people know that you care, and are keeping them in your thoughts and prayers. This is the website for the hospital. http://www.centralbap.com When the website opens, look for e-cards over to the left. I’m sure Jeff and his family would appreciate words of encouragement from from fellow Wildcat fans. Thanks for letting us know about this, Larry. I love the fact that you know there’s more to life than what happens on the court.

  • Ciprian Zisu says:

    This time of year it is extra special to have a prayer and I will make sure to do so for Jeff.

  • What a sweet story Larry thanks for sharing it with us ,so sorry to read of Jeff’s passing, however he did get his one more final four. As much as it meant to the rest of BBN I think this one was for Jeff.

    One more story that makes me glad that Cal is our coach, he understands how important basketball is to the BBN.

  • rod says:

    Thanks for touching story, UK fans are really one big family. Thoughts & prayers….

  • Jeff Dowdy says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Jeff’s family. We take pride in our Blue Nation Family and losing such a fan hurts all of us. Thanks for the story Larry…

  • King Ghidora says:

    Really shows the heart of the UK program. Rupp used to talk a lot about the shut ins and the sick. He knew the team meant a lot to those people. He built the program on integrity despite what the people at ESPN try to tell you. UK is a special place just like Rupp said. I’m glad to be a part of the BBN.

  • larryvaught says:

    Does touch your heart and so glad his brother shared this with us and glad Cal was so willing to reach out

  • Kari Stahl says:

    Hello! My name is Kari Stahl. My uncle was Jeff and my dad is Pat. I would just like to say how I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers. Thank you especially to Larry for sharing my uncle’s story. It meant a lot to the family. Thanks to everyone.

    • larryvaught says:

      Kari, it was my pleasure. So sorry for your loss, but what a heartwarming story about the love those brothers shared for each other and UK. Please give your dad a hug for me. Know this is a difficult time for him and all the family. Our prayers are with you

  • Melissa Cooney says:

    Thank you so much for your article on Jeff. He is my husband’s cousin. We were all very close. Jeff lost his battle with Cancer on Sunday, Easter morning. He was truly a remarkable person. One who will be missed by many. I also watched the UK/North Carolina game and he was over the moon about the win. He traveled to Houston for his last Final Four to cheer them on, even when he was not well enough to do it. He is without question THE TRUE BLUE FAN! Rest in Peace Jeff. We will always remember you heart and courage.

    • larryvaught says:

      Rest in Peace indeed. Sounds like an incredible man. Sorry I never got to meet him, but hope to meet Pat this season

  • Jennifer Stahl says:

    Hi! My name is Jennifer and Jeff is my dad. I just want to thank you so much for this article it means so much to my mother, sister, I, and the rest of the family. My dad was definitely a true blue fan. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers and everything you’ve done for us.

    • larryvaught says:

      Jennifer so sorry for your loss and if sharing this story can help that pain in any way then I am sure glad Pat contacted me. I still feel the pain of losing my dad when he was way too young and miss him dearly. Prayers for you and your family and glad the vaughtsviews.com crew has been here to learn about Jeff

  • MarkStephens says:

    Heaven is full of big blue fans he will be in good hands,all my blessings to the family

  • JD says:

    Jeff loved life and the people he came in contact with. Thanks for sharing this story. Our hearts are heavy today as we cope with this great loss.

  • Karen Sprinkle says:

    I echo the remarks of all who have commented on this story. My deepest condolences to the family, and my gratitude for sharing their story with us.

  • Pat Stahl says:

    Thanks larry and everyone out there GO BIG BLUE. Jeff,Pat and the whole Stahl family

  • Molly Bruns says:

    Hi my name is Molly and Jeff was my uncle. I’d just like to thank you for this article. It means a lot to me and my family especially my mother who is Pat and Jeff’s sister. I was lucky enough to go to the Maui Invitational with both my uncles and my cousins. I will always cherish those memories that I had with my family there. Jeff was truly an amazing man and a true blue fan!

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=6034045&l=fc706668df&id=678801890
    This is a photo I took of Pat and Jeff at the Maui Invitational. (close up of Pat and Jeff in background)

  • Tana says:

    My prayers go up for all of the Stahl family. May God bring strength to all of you family members who are reading here. May your dear loved one rest in peace.

  • larryvaught says:

    Molly, thanks for sharing that photo and Pat thanks again for sharing the wonderful story with all of us

  • Tommy Royse says:

    Great article For a true Blue Fan !! Heart felt thoughts and Prayers go out to the Stahl Family . Way to go Coach Cal !

  • Judy Bruns says:

    Thank you for the wonderful article on my brother Jeff. Most of the family went to the Maui Invitational this year. I couldn’t go, though Jeff called to let me know he could make it happen if I wanted to go. That’s just the kind of man he was. Always thinking of others. I told him not this year but I would for sure be at there in 2014. Little did we know that the 2010 tournament would be Jeff’s last. Jeff loved his family, his friends and his Kentucky Wildcats. We are brokenhearted but we are going to celebrate his life with stories, laughter and love – just the way he would have wanted it. God Bless.

  • Tammy Winn says:

    The Stahl family is in our thoughts and prayers. They are a wonderful family. May God keep you close and bring you comfort.

  • larryvaught says:

    Great way to do it Judy. Heck, maybe the whole family can get together in Maui in 2014 to celebrate again. The more I hear about him, the more I regret that I never met him. He is just the kind of fan I love to know. Here’s hoping the family can smile as well as shed those tears of love the next few days and weeks

  • LindaS says:

    We all know who was standing beside the Big Guy when Jeff went through the pearly gates. I know Coach Rupp was there to welcome him. This was truly a wonderful story Larry. I could not help but get tears in my eyes when I read it. Family means everything and for two bothers to be as close as they were and to share a common thread it so remarkable in these times when they lived so far apart. As we always say, once a Wildcat fan always a Wildcat fan. May God bless this family and hold them in his arms close to his heart during this trying time.

  • larryvaught says:

    That’s a great thought Linda. The Baron there to welcome him. Hope to see him myself — but not too soon — along with Jeff and my dad

  • TrueBlueJohn says:

    Great story, Larry. It just shows what Big Blue Nation is all about. I was able to enjoy both of my parents for almost 60 years, and though they have been gone for 8 years, I still think of them daily. When I do, it usually brings a smile to my face with a good memory of something funny that they said or did. I am sure that it will be the same for the Stahl family. They sound like really good people. Best wishes and prayers to them.

  • Paul Gallenstein says:

    The news of Jeff’s passing came as a real shock to me. I grew up just across the street from the Stahl family and consider Pat as one of my best friends. Pat and Jeff were as close as any two brother could be and I know the whole family will greatly miss Jeff. I still have memories of Pat and Jeff playing wiffle ball in their back yard or playing nerf basketball in their family den. Pop, Johnny, Jim Joe, Judy, Pat, Mike, Maria, and the extended Stahl family, you have my deepest sympathy

  • Mark Brannon says:

    Thanks Larry for sharing Jeff’s story,he never met a stranger and always seemed genuinely glad to see you with a smile and a good word.I’m sure he has already talked St. Peter into carrying next years games.Rest easy Jeff,you will be greatly missed.

  • larryvaught says:

    Thanks Paul, Mark and TrueBlue for your comments. And Mark, love the way you think

  • Mia Supe says:

    The Supe family is praying for all of you. Judy, you and your family are so blessed to have all these wonderful memories to hold onto and share. Your dear brother will always live through all these very special moments in time.

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