Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari isn’t really the most popular guy in the college basketball world. Some consider him a used car salesmen while others accuse him of being a cheat. What Calipari won’t be accused of when he takes his team to play at the Barclays Center on Friday is cheap.
Along with Calipari, Kentucky past and present joined forces with a local picture-box station to raise some money for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Who better then the best recruiter in college basketball to ask folks for donations in the wake of the destruction Sandy brought with her.
This isn’t Calipari’s first foray into the world of charity. As recently as 2010, Calipari raised $1 million dollars for the charity “Hoops for Haiti”, which was an effort to help victims of the Haitian earthquake.
This time around Calipari felt an emotional connection to the victims as his grandparents came through Ellis Island.
In a phone interview Calipari talked about his attempt to raise money for the victims of the hurricane:
“I think we’re going to be able to present a check for nearly $1 million Friday there before the game,” Calipari said. “ I’ve been in touch every day with friends and I’m stunned,” he said. “When I saw what happened in the Queens area. When you talk about the Jersey Shore, Staten Island, you’re talking working-class people. When you talk Jersey Shore, people may think those are wealthy people. But those are not. Those were fishing villages….Those homes were turned over to families for generations and now wiped out.”
Calipari wasn’t done either. Say what you want about the one of the most polarizing men in sports but he put everything in perspective for us:
“This money with that storm that followed it up, now there’s snow and cold. It’s amazing what people have gone through there. We can’t forget about it, like OK it happened last week. These people are still suffering right now, and that’s why we did it.”
In a world where everything gets jammed down our throats the minute it happens and thrown to the wayside as soon as another story pops up, I think Calipari pointing out that the problems for the people of the northeast not going away was poignant.
Joe covers the Big East and other college hoops stories for Rant Sports. Follow him on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone