‘It hit me right between the eyes’: Coach Cal reflects on eastern Ky. miner in viral photo

"It hit me right between the eyes': Coach Cal reflects on eastern Ky. miner in viral photo
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 10:50 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The viral photo of an eastern Kentucky coal miner with his son at Saturday’s Kentucky Basketball Blue-White game continues to be the talk of the internet.

The photo shared by Kentucky Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Calipari has reached millions.

During UK Media Day Tuesday, Calipari spent the first six minutes of his sitdown with the press talking about the photo, and the man in it.

“It hit me right between the eyes when I saw it.” said Coach Cal. He said he knew he wanted to take care of the man and his family by offering them the VIP treatment to a game at Rupp Arena.

After posting the photo on social media, responses from Big Blue Nation quickly identified the man as Micheal McGuire, from Pikeville.

Calipari says he called McGuire’s wife, Mollie, later Monday. Her husband was at work, underground, and had no idea any of this was going on.

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

“We know the power of basketball in our state,” Calipari went on to say. “We all know it...my thought was that was that this was about. He wanted to be there so bad that he was willing to leave without showering, without changing, and just get in his car and go because he got out of the mine late. It wasn’t about that. He wanted to be there with his son.”

The story of the coal miner hits close to home for Calipari. He says his family’s pursuit of the American dream started in a coal mine in Clarksburg, W.Va.

“I’ve done some things that have been fulfilling for my wife and I. But this, you have to say, 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.”

Coach Cal says the response to the photo continues to be overwhelming. He says hotels and restaurants around Lexington have offered the McGuires a place to stay and eat when they come up for their game of choice.

They told WKYT Tuesday they talked to Coach Cal earlier in the day, and said they would like to come for the game against Kansas on Jan. 28. Tip off is set for 8 pm.

You can watch Calipari’s full remarks on the experience here:

During UK Media Day Tuesday, Calipari spent the first six minutes of his sitdown with the press talking about the viral photo, and the man in it.