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Life is about much more than who wins Saturday night’s game

Mark Stoops with his sons during last week’s Cat Walk. (Jeff Houchin Photo)


As a proud grandfather of three adorable boys and one gorgeous girl, my heart still breaks for the family of 4-year-old Marco Lee Shemwell.

He was hit by a car driven by an 18-year-old UK freshman as he walked on Cooper Drive after leaving Kroger Field Saturday with family members after watching the UK-Murray State football game. He passed away Monday afternoon at UK Children’s Hospital.

On Saturday, a 4-year-old child was waiting to cross Cooper Drive outside of Kroger Field in Lexington when he was struck by a car.

I’ve walked in that same area with my youngest grandson after a UK football game. In fact, we did so last year.

After every UK home football game, I drive on Cooper Drive as I leave to return home to Danville. I come in on Cooper Drive to get to where I park for games and always see fans of all ages walking to and from the games.

As big as the UK-Mississippi State game is this Saturday night for the Wildcats, it’s still just hard to think about football when I try to comprehend the pain the Shemwell family feels and wonder how they’ll cope with his tragic event. The grandfather in me just can’t imagine having one of my four gifts snatched away when they are between the ages of 6 and 9. To think of one being gone at age 4 is just not something I can fathom.

I’ve called all four of my grandchildren each of the last two nights just to hear their voices and via Skype to see those loving, smiling faces.

It was no surprise to meet that UK coach Mark Stoops and athletics director Mitch Barnhart both expressed their remorse on Twitter.

“Chantel and I, along with the Kentucky football family, are in grief for the Shemwells, their family and friends. It is hard to put into words the hurt we feel in our hearts, and our prayers and deepest condolences are with the Shemwell family and all affected by this tragedy,” Stoops posted on Twitter.

“Our hearts are broken for the Shemwell family. We ask our fans to join us in supporting them through unimaginable tragedy while respecting their privacy. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Marco’s family and all those whose lives he touched. We pray for peace for them,” Barnhart said on Twitter.

Couple this with the battles UK offensive line coach John Schlarman and defensive lineman Josh Paschal are having with cancer, it has just made me think about a lot more than UK’s 3-0 start this season. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s having friends have open heart surgery. Maybe it’s losing friends younger than me in the past few months.

Hug your family today. Do something nice for someone. Remember Saturday night is just a game and what the Shemwell family is dealing with along with Schlarman, Paschal and others is much, much more significant than whether UK wins or loses Saturday night.

That’s why I liked this idea former UK lineman Jerry Bell posted on Twitter Tuesday night:

“Kroger Field needs to take a moment of silence to remember Marco Shemwell while holding up our phones to light up the sky in his memory. ?@UKFootball @UKAthletics Help spread the word and send prayers for the Shemwell Family.”

Prayers sent.


  1. Great thoughts Larry V. Add my prayers to all. Thanks for writing this. I too cherish my grand kids. Pray for the young man who drove the car too. His life has been changed forever.

    I might add this tragedy was apparently due to alcohol too, let’s be honest here. The young man driving the car was reportedly under the influence and arrested. We as a society glorify booze today. It has taken more lives than we care to admit. Underage drinking goes on at tailgate parties and no one seems to give a damn. It should not be allowed on our campuses and at our football games, but good luck with that. This could have been avoided.

  2. Thanks Larry for articulating how most of us feel. I wanted to type something heartfelt and sincere but I have no words. I have two sons and one grandson . I can’t even begin to imagine what the family is going thru. It truly hurts my heart. I would love to see UK do the moment of silence for Marco with the phone light s on. His initials on the helmets would be nice also. I would also love for UK to do something more permanent to remind us of what’s truly at risk when we tailgate and remind people to be more responsible. Maybe a plaque at one of the entrances or a flag that always flies above the stadium. I don’t know but something like that would mean a lot to the family IMO.

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