picture by Dr. Michael Huang
Much has been made about Jay Z bringing his H to the Izzo, V to the izz-AY, self into Rupp Arena for the game on Saturday, and for good reason. Getting the biggest rap name in the game was clearly a coup for the Blue and is just another step in the “John Calipari is cooler than every other coach” march. But let’s not forget that an old-school famous UK fan was there as well. Ashley Judd was four rows behind the bench and yelling at the top of her lungs throughout the contest. Continuing her tradition of arriving at the games as they begin and being worked up from the opening tip, Judd was great to watch throughout. She stood up and cheered all of the players and let the referees know when she was upset at their calls (which was often). She was still rocking the UK t-shirt and seemed as content as she could be in a non-Morgan Freeman chasing her through the fog setting.
In recent years, Ashley’s fandom has become slightly controversial to some among the UK internet fanbase. While she is never greeted with anything but warmth from the Rupp masses, some UK internet fans who are not happy with her politics, aren’t happy with her as a fan either. It is of course, an absurd idea to think that because one disagrees with Ashley Judd on something like the endangered jumping frog (which may or may not be endangered), they can’t accept her cheering on the Cats. But what Saturday showcased to me once again is that Judd is the best kind of UK celebrity fan. Like Josh Hopkins, she knows the players, is absolutely passionate about the game and cheers throughout both good and bad. She attends at least 2-3 games every year and famously sat through that awful Billy Clyde debacle in Nashville four season ago. She is a true fan, and as loyal as one can be who does not live in Lexington and is married to an Indy Car driver.
So while I love having Jay Z, Drake, John Boehner and Mike Tomlin make appearances in Rupp, I also enjoy the familiar site of Ashley in the stands as well. She has gotten a bit older, playing the mom instead of the hot bombshell, but she is still getting it done and forgave me for my verbal slip-up with her years ago (a good story that I have told via radio). To paraphrase our man Jigga, when I am saying what up to Ty Ty while sipping mai tais courtside at Rupp, I hope it is Ashley that will be there to give me a high five.