Monday, September 13, 2010

John Calipari visits 102-year-old fan

Here's a bummer about getting old: Until you get really, really, really old -- the kind of old that's so old you're not sure if you want to be that old -- people don't care. Being 80 is rarely seen as an accomplishment. But when you reach a certain threshold, people care more than ever. You get your photo on the "Today Show." Your relatives mention you in casual conversation. ("My grandpa is 104, and he still walks a mile every day!") People clap for you at weddings.

And, perhaps most importantly, high-profile college hoops coaches come visit you on your birthday.

At least, one does. Kentucky coach John Calipari, master of the positive public relations stunt (and, by all accounts, a genuinely caring and outgoing guy), visited Dr. Gifford Blyton, a 102-year-old Kentucky season-ticket holder for 62 years and a former professor under eight different presidents at Kentucky, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Calipari is traveling in support of his latest book, "Bounce Back: Overcoming Setbacks to Succeed in Business and in Life," but he stopped the book tour for the momentary visit with Blyton at Fat Boys restaurant in Georgetown, Ky. (Mmm. Fat Boys. I've never been there, but any restaurant named "Fat Boys" is bound to be delicious. I bet there's lots of gravy.)

In any case, Calipari left the meeting with a ready-made quote straight from the inspirational coachspeak handbook:

“You give money, and you're giving a fraction of what you have,” Calipari said last week. “But when you give your time, you're giving everything.”
Which, like all good inspirational coachspeak handbook quotes, has the benefit of being both hokey and true. Fans eat this stuff up, and it's no wonder why. Calipari is good at a lot of things -- recruiting, meshing teams together, coaching defense -- but creating a genuine sense of outreach and community in his adopted home might be his best, and perhaps most admirable, trait.

Credits: Eamon Brennan, ESPN

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