By LARRY VAUGHT
I can still remember being at former Kentucky offensive lineman Dave Hopewell’s pregame UK football tailgate in 2015 when I met Brad Pearce. Actually, it was like meeting Jared Lorenzen II.
It was Halloween and Pearce, the youth and worship pastor at North View Baptist Church in Lexington, had dressed up like Lorenzen.
“The costume was ridiculous but it was all in love. He is by far my favorite UK player ever and I’m truly saddened that he’s gone,” Pearce posted on social media Wednesday after Lorenzen’s passing. “He was such a great guy. I’ll never forget throwing ball with him.”
Lorenzens somehow heard about Pearce being there or just accidentally came by where Pearce was. Was Lorenzen offended? Not at all. He laughed, posed for pictures and threw football with Pearce. I was lucky enough to be nearby and got to watch it all.
“I came back out (in the outfit) the next year for the Mississippi State game in 2016 at the request of ESPN,” Pearce said.
He also came to Danville in full gear to be on a radio show with me in 2015 after I wrote about him that drew quite a crowd to the show to see him.
“It was a great experience. I appreciate y’all having me on,” he said.
All I ever remember is how Lorenzen seemed to love what Pearce had done. However, the UK fan often wondered if there was any chance he offended the former UK quarterback.
“That’s weighed on me a lot. Especially in 2017 when he came out with his plan to lose the weight. KSR (Kentucky Sports Radio) always used the image of him and me together and I just hoped everyone realized the costume was done out of respect and adoration,” Pearce said.
“In no way was it meant as a put down. He was so nice that day (in 2015) and all smiles. I was always pulling for the guy.”
My hunch is that Lorenzen knew exactly that because part of what made him so special was how lovable he was and that he related to fans in a way few UK athletes ever have or ever will.