By LARRY VAUGHT
Two things happened on Christmas for me that normally don’t occur.
First, the weather was so warm that I wore shorts and loved every minute of it.
Second, and most important, I cried. And I mean I cried a lot. It’s the first time I can remember crying on Christmas since almost 20 years ago when it was the first Christmas after my father’s passing.
This time I cried tears of both joy and sadness as I watched the documentary about former Kentucky basketball player Reggie Warford. The work that Cameron Mills’ production company put into “Reggie Warford: Fight of His Life” was a great history lesson for any UK basketball fan telling the story of Warford, the first African-American basketball player to graduate at UK.
I was at UK for two years when Warford played there and then covered UK basketball his senior season. Trust me, I was shocked when he talked about being the “loneliest” person on UK campus and made me feel a bit ashamed for not understanding what life on campus must have been like for him. I lived in the same dorm with African-American football players and interacted with them often. But Warford was on the opposite side of campus and obviously needed more friends.
But to see the story of how he needed two heart transplants and a kidney transplant — and almost gave up once — before now dying of an incurable disease.
“I kept my nose clean. I was a good citizen,” Warford, a starter on UK’s 1976 NIT championship team and member of the 1975 Final Four team, said during the documentary.
Now he wants current Cats to know more about his story before his death.
“I want them to know me. I want them to know who I was. That would be a great legacy,” Warford said.
Yes it would. Just ask former UK All-American Kevin Grevey, Warford’s teammate in 1975.
“Every African-American that comes and plays here at Kentucky should know who Reggie Warford is. That should be his legacy,” Grevey said.
Yes it should.
“Reggie would want everyone to know I tried my best to do it the right way, to set an example for everyone to come,” former UK teammate Jack Givens said. “He did it the right way. That is the thing he would want those young guys to know.”
It’s the thing we should all know and remember.
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If you missed the documentary on WKYT-TV Wednesday, you can watch online at vimeo.com/ondemand/reggie . You can also order a DVD for $9.99 at