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John Calipari has changed the lives of many as a coach; Joe B. Hall may be at the top of that list

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Calipari’s relationship with Hall has given the former coach new life...literally.

Tammie Brown/Kentucky Today

John Calipari did two things when he first arrived in Lexington in 2009. He found out where all the old men in Lexington have coffee and talk about Kentucky basketball. Then he made it a point to connect with Joe B. Hall.

Both of these ventures were to help Cal get accepted by the fan base and to help him to learn the ways of Kentucky basketball culture. But nearly a decade later, it seems his decision to befriend Coach Hall has had a more lasting impact than he could ever imagine.

“Cal treats him like he should be treated,” said Terry McBrayer, a close friend of Hall. “I love it for Joe.”

Hall was the head coach of Kentucky basketball for 13 years. He also served as an assistant coach, he played at Kentucky, and he grew up as a fan of the Wildcats. Kentucky basketball was a large part of his life. When he retired in 1985, however, that part of his life was taken away.

“I hated to be totally excluded,” Hall said to Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader recently. And when asked what Calipari’s kindness toward him has meant, he had a powerful reply: “Everything.”

Hall can be found in Rupp Arena now at every home game, and if you attend a game you can usually find him on the “Hunk Cam.” He occasionally appears as the famous “Y” in the mid court “KENTUCKY” cheer. But even outside of game days, Hall is once again a regular part of Kentucky basketball.

“(Calipari) really did a great job of encouraging me to come to practice,” Hall said. “And he stayed close to me, and kept me a part of the program.”

Louisville offensive line coach Mike Summers, who happens to be Joe B. Hall’s son-in-law, fully recognizes the impact that Hall’s relationship with Calipari has had on the former coach’s life. “I couldn’t say enough thank yous,” he said of Calipari.

There is no doubt that John Calipari is due many thank yous from the lives he has impacted throughout the years. But his relationship with Coach Hall has rejuvenated the life of a man that thought his best years were behind him.

Toronto Raptors coach Dwayne Casey, who played for Hall at Kentucky, said this of their relationship: “It extends his life . . . (Hall) perks up. He may not ever admit it but, believe me, it adds so many more years.”

Say what you want about Coach Cal’s basketball philosophy and his approach to recruiting, but his compassion and heart for others is something that should never be questioned.