They say to get to know a man, you have to walk a mile in his shoes; for me, that proved to be 100% true with Jared Lorenzen.
I got to know Jared early in my KSR career. He was a fixture at football games and KSR functions, a larger than life figure in every sense of the term. Any nerves I had meeting him, a Kentucky Football legend, quickly dissipated on contact. Jared had a unique way of making everyone feel like his friend, no matter if you were someone he’d grown up with or simply a fan outside Kroger Field. To me, that was his greatest trait and made the walk from the RV lot to the stadium in 2015 one I’ll never forget.
The lead-up to the Kentucky-Auburn game in 2015 was manic. The Cats were 4-1, the only loss being a heartbreaker to Florida (natch). ESPN picked the game for its Thursday night slot, and in turn, we decided to do an all-day pregame show, with me, Jared, Freddie, and Nick in studio and Matt, Ryan, and Drew prowling the tailgating grounds in the Gator. In true KSR fashion, a lot of crazy things happened that day — the Gator breaking down, for one — but somehow, we got through it and to the stadium. Jared and I arrived at the RV lot and began the walk through the tailgates, chatting easily about completely random stuff (in true Jared fashion).
I’d seen Jared interact with fans before during pregame shows, etc., but experiencing it alongside him for those 20 or so minutes was something different altogether. It was the same cycle with each group we passed: 1) Is that Jared Lorenzen? 2) Holy crap, that’s Jared Lorenzen 3) “HEY JARED!” Most fans would shout out one of Jared’s many nicknames, which he’d lobby back with, “What’s going on” and a wave. Occasionally, a football would get tossed to him and he’d grab it and flick it back effortlessly. As we crossed University Drive into the Blue Lot, a fan who’d clearly had a few jokingly mentioned the Florida game, which had come up during the pregame show. Jared rolled his eyes back and growled. When the guy apologized for bringing it up, he shook it off and smiled.
A few steps later, a fan in a No. 22 jersey stopped in his tracks and, after picking his chin off the ground, asked Jared for a picture. He didn’t just oblige, he made sure they got several. When we walked on, I told him I felt like I was walking with a rockstar. As we neared the stadium, I ran into an old friend from high school I hadn’t seen in years. We chatted for a bit and after we parted ways, Jared joked that he felt like he was walking with a rockstar.The high fives, shoutouts, and selfies continued until we got to the gate and morphed into warm smiles and greetings as we got to the press box. I made my way to my seat and Jared went to his, our journey over.
This isn’t my greatest memory of Jared — singing Fake Barney’s parody of “Crown Royal” with him in a bar full of Louisville fans is hard to top — but it is the most telling. So many times, you meet your heroes and they fail to live up to your expectations. Jared exceeded mine because, without knowing, he made people part of his experience. Just another day for him was, for me, an unforgettable glimpse into the life of one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. The world could use a few more Jareds.