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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Marcus Lee Epitomizes "Brother's Keeper"

There is a lot to celebrate when your basketball team is 31-0. But what Marcus Lee has done shows that there is much more to celebrate with this team than what happens on the basketball court.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hopefully by now you have read the excellent article penned by Kyle Tucker of The Courier Journal about the secretive service work that Kentucky's Marcus Lee has been doing throughout the year. You can go and read Tucker's work here, and if you haven't, I highly recommend that you take the time to do so.

I won't take much time rehashing the story, I can't do Mr. Tucker justice, but here is a quick recap: Marcus Lee has been secretly dedicating his time to sick children around Kentucky by visiting them and writing letters. John Calipari didn't know what Lee was doing until he received multiple letters and emails from the parents of those children's lives that Lee had touched in a positive way.

Just like that, Lee's secret was out. It would've gotten out soon anyway. Bennett's was just one of many emails and letters that began pouring in to Calipari and the UK athletic department, all with the same general theme: You won't believe what Marcus Lee did. His coaches and teammates had no idea he'd been moonlighting as a do-gooder, that he was on a mission to make the world a better place "one smile at a time." Now they know.

"Why didn't you tell us you were doing these things?" Lee remembers Calipari asking him. "And my first reply was, 'What do you mean?' I thought it was just a natural thing to help people, and I didn't think it was a big thing to tell anybody."

Marcus Lee's story should come as no surprise if any of us had been paying attention to this current team or to the message that John Calipari has been preaching since he came to Lexington. Cal had the reputation as a cutthroat recruiter that pushed the envelope when it came to the NCAA rules and regulations. After all, look at how he left UMass and Memphis.

That's the narrative. That's what some would have you believe John Calipari represents. But take a closer look at what he's done at Kentucky. He raised over one million dollars for Haiti relief after a devastating earthquake that shook the country to its core. President Obama called to thank the Wildcats and we were left with the immortal yet comical conversation between him and Demarcus Cousins.

Cal also visited parts of Kentucky after a wave of tornadoes hit and destroyed people's towns and homes.He took the national title trophy on a tour of Kentucky, reaching out to the parts of Big Blue Nation that may never get the opportunity to do something like that again in their lifetime.

And one cannot forget Nerlens Noel and his acts of kindness with child cancer patient Kelly Melton. Noel started skyping with the boy once he became a Kentucky Wildcat. But their relationship didn't end there. Noel took Melton as his guest to the Kentucky Derby in 2013. Noel was about to become a millionaire and a top ten draft pick and he took a young kid to the Derby and spent the day with him, making his dreams come true.

So while Lee is a remarkable young man and a what he did for his community-which earned him an SEC honor- is his doing, Lee represents a culture at Kentucky that is shamefully overlooked by cynics, detractors, and all out Calipari haters. During a time in college basketball that is littered with academic scandals at top tier programs in the ACC with Syracuse and North Carolina, pending legal matters dogging players at Duke and Louisville, and an NCAA benefits scandal potentially set to rock Kansas yet again, Kentucky has risen above it all and has become an unlikely beacon of light in the world of college hoops.

There has been plenty of praise heaped upon the Wildcats' willingness to give up playing time in order for the team to win basketball games. 31-0 isn't just a testament to the will to win, it's a testament to the players willingness to do whatever it takes to claim a victory.

Willie Cauley-Stein is piling up the All American, defensive player of the year, and first team SEC awards already, but he's not worried about it.

"They're awards. I'd give them all up for real. I'd give them all up to everybody. I came back for one reason, and that's the mission I'm on. All the other stuff is fluff."

Karl-Anthony Towns has been another guy on the team that has taken "Brother's Keeper" to heart. He writes the message on his shoes. He uses it as his twitter handle. After defeating Florida by 17 points on Saturday and again showing that he's the best player on the floor, Towns gave a pair of his shoes to a young fan in a wheel chair. Towns' stock in the NBA draft is skyrocketing and he is rightfully challenging Jahlil Okafor's status as the presumptive overall top pick. But he, like Willie, sees one goal and one goal only.

"For me, it's all about winning. I'm trying to cut down nets and win rings, not trying to win hardware."

There is no doubt that this team was built for March and to win a national championship. But don't forget how special they are not only as players but as people. We may not see a collection of uber talented yet egoless kids like this ever again at Kentucky or in all of college basketball. Savor it because we only have a few weeks left to do so.

At the beginning of the season, ESPN's Jeff Goodman famously tweeted that the frontcourt is too loaded and that Marcus Lee would be the odd man out and would likely transfer. Goodman didn't back down from his statement and a couple of weeks ago he claimed to know of rumblings from the "Lee Camp" that the power forward was unhappy with his situation at Kentucky. He didn't give a single piece of evidence to back up his claims.

Marcus Lee is everything you would want your son or daughter to be and then some. He is selfless, kind, generous, a good friend, a good teammate, and an overall wonderful person not to mention a pretty darn good basketball player. Mr. Goodman and others should realize that the happiness of some college athletes isn't derived from minutes in a game or points scored, but the impact he or she makes in the lives of others.

I don't know the future. I have no idea what it holds for Lee or for the rest of these guys. But I do know what I see and I believe in what I see. I believe in these Wildcats as players and as people. I believe in John Calipari's mesaage and what he's trying to do beyond basketball. I believe in being your brother's keeper.