Daughter from prominent UofL family honors late father

Daughter from prominent UofL family honors late father
Otto Knop Jr. played for UofL. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Kristi said her wedding day was perfect. (Source: Grace Ann Pumpelly)
Kristi said her wedding day was perfect. (Source: Grace Ann Pumpelly)
Despite their different loyalties to UK and UofL, Kristi and Andrew have come together for love. (Source: Grace Ann Pumpelly)
Despite their different loyalties to UK and UofL, Kristi and Andrew have come together for love. (Source: Grace Ann Pumpelly)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It was controversy for Kristi Knop and Andrew Stewart from the beginning.

"Well he was wearing a UK shirt, and we are big UofL fans," Knop said. "But his eyes were so blue."

Big UofL fans is an understatement coming from the granddaughter of Hall of Famer Otto Knop Sr., and daughter of Otto Knop Jr., who also played for the Cards.

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Knop explained that luckily, with time, the UK-UofL divide dissolved between her father and then-boyfriend Andrew Stewart.

"By the time we were ready to get engaged, he was just overjoyed," Knop (now Stewart) said. "He asked my dad if he could marry me and my dad said 'I'm glad we're on the same page.'"

However, a diagnosis of biliary duct cancer for Knop Jr. put all of their lives on fast-forward. A June wedding turned into a March one. A chapel turned into hospice.

Through it all, Stewart said what was going to be the best day of her life so far, turned out to be even better than imagined.

"I couldn't have asked for a better wedding day," she said. "I wish it was under different circumstances, but it was perfect."

Stewart described her father as a man who was always enthusiastic about life, sports, fishing and family. She fondly recalled the time he was asked to coach a women's lacrosse team. She explained that at the time, her father had never even watched a full game of lacrosse. However, he took it upon himself to shadow lacrosse coaches for a season before accepting the challenge of coaching.

Every little thing Knop Jr. tried, he gave it his all, according to his daughter. Even when his body was worn down from the cancer, his spirit never wavered.

"Otto from his chair [at the wedding] yelled out, 'Why is everyone crying? It's a celebration, everyone needs to be happy!'" Andrew said.

A father's last wish was granted on March 14. It was a wish not to see his daughter go, but one to gain another son, Kristi explained.

"After we said our vows and kissed, [he] leaned over and said 'I'll take good care of her,'" Kristi Stewart said about her husband chatting with her father. "And then [Otto] tapped [him] and said, 'She'll take care of you too.'"

The Stewarts and the Knops said goodbye to Otto Knop Jr. two days after the wedding -- on March 16. They want everyone to know Knop touched so many lives as a coach, a father and a mentor.

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