Family, Basketball and Charity: UK Alumni Charity Game a Rousing Success
At Kentucky, it’s all about family. On Friday, the Big Blue Nation was treated to a family reunion at the home of Kentucky basketball, Rupp Arena.
It wasn’t all about basketball though.
Friday night’s UK Alumni Charity Game was equal parts basketball, family and giving back.
With his former pupils nearby, head coach John Calipari announced that the beneficiaries of his Fantasy Experience, its golf outing and the Alumni Charity Game will receive more than $1 million. He added that $150,000 will be donated to the American Red Cross Bluegrass Chapter and be sent to Texas to help aid those affected by Hurricane Harvey, which is expected to make landfall sometime Friday evening. A list of those beneficiaries and the donation amount is at the bottom of this story.
“Anything that’s done for a great cause, I love to be a part of,” said 1998 national champion Heshimu Evans. “Kentucky has always been great to me. A lot of guys I haven’t seen in a long time and there’s guys I haven’t seen (at all), so it’s just been a great experience.”
The night began with the UK Legends Game, where some of the greatest Wildcats in program history took the floor and brought back memories of national championships past.
There was Shagari Alleyne, all 7-foot-3 of him, standing on his tiptoes for one- and two-hand slams. There was 1978 national-title game hero Jack “Goose” Givens, who couldn’t miss. Bobby Perry and Jon Hood led all scorers with 17 and 13 points, respectively, and hit a combined 12-of-19 shots from the field.
“It was fun to be back out there,” Dale Brown said. “I know I’m an old guy and I don’t really get up and down the court anymore. I play with the guys every now and then, but it was fun. I was looking forward to it. I caught myself trying to condition for it like three weeks prior to. It didn’t do me any good, but it was great. Nothing like Kentucky basketball.”
The UK Alumni Charity Game featured many of Kentucky’s current and recent NBA stars. There was 2015 No. 1 NBA Draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns, All-NBA second teamer and Olympic gold medalist DeMarcus Cousins, NBA champion Rajon Rondo, former national champions Darius Miller, Tony Delk, Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson, Terrence Jones and Jamaal Magloire, Jamal Murray, UK’s freshman 3-point record holder, and many more.
“I think we’ve got five, six decades represented out here,” Rex Chapman told the crowd of 12,754 at Rupp Arena. “It really is family. Going back to the ’70s to Malik Monk.”
“Anytime you come back, you cherish the memories,” Alex Poythress said. “Some of us didn’t play together, but we all feel that bond and that family when we all come together.”
Following a nostalgic video that captured many of the participants’ great moments in the Blue and White, an up-and-down, fan-friendly “game” was played.
Rondo had multiple bounce passes over opponents’ heads, one off of his own and one off the shot clock. He finished with a stat line similar to what he often produces in NBA action: 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Poythress missed just one of his 14 field-goal attempts and put on a dunking exhibition en route to 28 points. Towns led all scorers with 33 points on 16-of-18 shooting. Anderson added 25 points of his own and knocked down half of his 14 3-point attempts.
“Tonight, was special,” Towns said. “When I get to play with guys like Trey (Lyles) and Tyler (Ulis) and Alex it’s so special.”
The White Team, led by Towns, won the game, 115-109. The White Team shot 63.1 percent from the field and outscored the Blue Team 86-52 in the paint.
The score of the exhibition was hardly of any importance, however. The parting sentiment at Rupp Arena was that once again the UK Alumni Charity Game brought an ever-growing family back together and gave back to those in need.
“It’s a blessing, an honor to be back here in Lexington, Kentucky, playing in the one and only best place in the world, Rupp Arena, with the best fans in the world,” Towns said. “It was really fun to be able to have a chance to go out there and play with present and past. It’s awesome to combine timelines.”
UK Alumni Charity Game Beneficiaries
4 Paws for Ability – $50,000
Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky – $15,000
Connecticut Burn Care Foundation – $10,000
EverFi – $100,000
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – $30,000
Kids2Camp – $75,000
KidzFirst – $100,000
Lexington Humane Society – $25,000
Miracle League of Wilmington – $50,000
One Parent Scholar House – $50,000
Samaritan’s Feet – $100,000
Score International – $25,000
Sports Reach – $25,000
St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital – $110,000
Team Focus – $50,000
Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County – $50,000
American Red Cross Bluegrass Chapter – $150,000
* You can text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts or visit redcross.org.