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Bret Bearup passes away at 56

Former UK basketball player Bret Bearup has died. He was just 56 years old.

Bearup was found dead on Thursday in Denver and the cause of death is unknown, per the Lexington Herald Leader’s Jerry Tipton.

As a star recruit Bearup never did fully live up to expectations at UK during his career that spanned five years from the 1980-1981 season to 1985, but he made a lasting impression off the court. A fan favorite, Bearup had an amazing personality.

Bearup would play in 26 games his freshman season coming from Greenlawn, N.Y., but would miss the following season and redshirt. UK’s front court featured stars like Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin, so the 6-foot-9, 230-pound center/forward didn’t see much action until his senior season.

He played in 31 games in 1985 while averaging 6.3 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game. The Cats lost in the Sweet 16 to St. John’s to end Bearup’s career.

Bearup’s sudden passing comes after his ex-wife BethAnn Bearup told Tipton that he had recently lost 80 pounds and was “feeling good.”

Keep his three kids in your thoughts and prayers. The sudden passing of Bearup won’t be easy for anyone that knew him. Several have already taken to Twitter to express kind words and memories.

Article written by TJ Walker

11 responses to “Bret Bearup passes away at 56”

  1. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

    So sad. Prayers for the family.

  2. michaelb

    Hate to see this , prayers to his children.

  3. Not Dan Issel

    56. Way too young. I remember when he was recruited and signed with UK. Coming out of high school was considered one of the top 5 prospects in the country and signing him was a big win for UK. No, he wasn’t the AA that many had hoped he would be, but he was a solid player who played hard and gave a full effort every time he was on the court. Deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends. The BBN is grieving for your loss, as well as ours.

  4. Ridge Runner

    So shocked to hear of his passing. Rest easy Bear…

  5. satcheluk

    So sad. Light to his family. Obesity kills. If not for yourself, think of your family.

    1. Irish son

      I read where he had lost 80 pounds in the last year

  6. Duuuuuude

    This was a sad surprise. Charles hurt was another sad surprise. Melvin Turpin was sad but not a surprise. Three players from the same team gone way too soon.

    1. Duuuuuude

      Heck, as I think about it, I think all three of those players were in the same recruiting class.

  7. Teamhhc1

    He was the first Kentucky basketball player I ever met when I was a little guy. I can still remember the day and meeting him at Neon High School gym in the early 80’s. He was a great guy then and will be surly missed.

  8. SuperTroy18

    So Young. This team was a little before my time, so I’m not as familiar with him as a player; but I hate to hear of us ever losing a former Cat.

  9. sincitycat

    Rest in peace, Wildcat.