Basketball community, leaders mourn following Denny Crum’s death
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Following the death of legendary University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Coach Denny Crum on Tuesday morning, many leaders and members within the basketball community are sharing their memories and condolences.
Current UofL Men’s Basketball Coach Kenny Payne released a statement following Crum’s death, stating many people were “blessed to have Coach Crum in our lives.”
Chris Mack, who coached the UofL men’s team from 2018 to 2022, said Crum was “inviting” and changed lives.
“I appreciated all of our time together,” Mack said in the tweet.
Rick Pitino, who coached the University of Louisville men’s basketball program from 2001 to 2017, said Crum was “beloved by all Cardinal fans.”
Coach John Calipari with the University of Kentucky also shared condolences on Tuesday, stating Crum had a great sense of humor and was “a competitor who wanted to win every game.”
“We lost another legend in our state today,” Calipari said.
UofL’s head football coach Jeff Brohm said he was “heartbroken and saddened” by Crum’s death and that he elevated the basketball program “to unprecedented heights.”
ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas said Crum was “one of the finest gentlemen and champions the game has ever known.”
Dick Vitale, ESPN analyst and sports commentator, said Crum was a “true legend and hall of famer.”
Louisville mayor Craig Greenberg said Crum’s “dedication and hard work on and off the court touched countless lives.”
Kentucky governor Andy Beshear said Crum was a “basketball legend,” not only in winning multiple titles but also by running an inclusive program “for all to enjoy.”
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said Crum revolutionized the game of basketball in the 1980s and “impacted the lives of countless young men.”
Kentucky Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the “Cardinal community loved their coach and will miss his calm leadership both on and off the court.”
Two fans spoke outside the University of Louisville and couldn’t believe Crum had died.
“When you grow up in Louisville and you’ve heard Denny Crum’s name all your life,” Portia Craig said, “you just don’t expect to hear that he just passed.”
“His birthday is the same as my moms in March,” Vicki Orkies said. “So this is horrific. I mean Denny is part of Louisville.”
Robbie Valentine was a guard on the 1986 Championship team. He came to UofL and found something he had been missing.
“Because I didn’t have a dad,” Valentine said. “You get on campus and there is a male role model that gives a damn about you, and he was that person. There was a lot of African Americans that Denny coached, and I tell you what, I don’t think a man treated me better in my life than Coach.”
Described as a man who loved his players and loved Louisville, Crum above all loved people and gave freely of his time.
Wiley Brown, star forward on the 1980 Championship team, took that lesson to heart at an early age, even when he was just giving autographs.
“He always would tell me,” Brown said, “the time to worry about that is when people don’t come up to you and ask you for those autographs and take those pictures. He said while they’re doing it, I’m going to enjoy it and it’s the way I live my life. I’m a coach now. Anybody, I don’t care where they were born, they want an autograph picture I’m there for it, and he taught me that.”
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