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John Calipari reveals backstory behind reaching out to viral coal miner dad, what it meant to him

Alex Weberby:Alex Weber10/25/22

This past weekend, the Kentucky Men’s Basketball team went east, heading to Pikeville for this year’s Blue/White scrimmage in an effort to raise more money for the eastern half of the state after devastating flooding this summer. As part of the whole experience, one coal miner who barely made the game in time wound up having a life-changing photo snapped of him during the game. He was covered head to toe in coal dust and still in mining attire when he showed up to the event, which Coach Cal really respected.

So he sought out the man, Micheal McGuire, and his family to offer them tickets and a weekend to Lexington on UK. Since McGuire was dutifully back at work in the mine on Monday, Calipari couldn’t speak with him until later in the day. But first he spoke to the wife, so was overwhelmed at the attention for her husband.

According to Calipari, this was what Mrs. McGuire had to say about Micheal and his occupation as a miner:

“My husband is humble. He’s hardworking. This is hard work. But he makes enough being there that I don’t have to work. And he’s a great father. He’s done this many times.”

Calipari took extended time at his press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the whole ordeal. After revealing those words from Mollie McGuire, Calipari explained why the story is so touching.

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“You’re bringing light to a good man. A hardworking Kentuckian. A coal miner who does everything he can to make time for his family and his son and his daughter. Come on. That’s what it ends up being. That’s the story.”

Coach Cal also revealed that a flurry of other businesses jumped in on his gift to the McGuire’s, offering the family meals and places to stay for when they come to Lexington for the game at some point this season.

For him, this is what the American Dream is. Just so happens, Micheal McGuire and John Calipari happen to have very similar images of that very thing.

“You got hotels calling, ‘we want to put him up.’ You got restaurants calling, ‘we wanna feed him dinner.’ Had a car dealership call to give him a car to drive. Think about this. And isn’t neat for someone like that, who’s a quiet, humble guy to know people appreciate you and appreciate what you stand for. And I appreciate it because it’s how my family got their start in this country. The American Dream started in a coal mine in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Backbreaking work? Yes.”

The head coach of the premier college basketball program in the country shaking hands and forging goodwill with your average eastern Kentucky coal miner. Lovely to see from John Calipari.