It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty-five years since the Carrollton bus crash. Although I was too young to understand it at the time, the references to it throughout my childhood were impossible to miss. On May 14, 1988, Larry Mahoney crashed into a school bus returning to Radcliff, Kentucky from a church group outing to an amusement park. Mahoney was drunk and driving in the wrong direction on the interstate, and collided with the bus head on, causing a massive fire that killed 27 people and injured 34. It remains the second deadliest bus crash in US history.
People Magazine commemorated the 25th anniversary of the accident by highlighting the stories of the survivors, which will be featured in a documentary by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), entitled “Impact: After The Crash.” One of them is Harold Dennis, who was 14 at the time of the crash. He was asleep beside his best friend at the time of impact, and was able to escape thanks to the help of a fellow passenger. An excerpt:
“Someone on the outside grabbed my arm, put their foot on the bumper and literally pulled me out,” Dennis says. “I hit the asphalt and started running, even though I couldn’t see anything because my eyes were swollen shut. I could hear the screams and the explosions.”
Dennis, who suffered third-degree burns on 20 percent of his body, spent years undergoing multiple skin-graft surgeries. “Going through this,” he says, “forced me to grow up and mature a lot faster.”
Dennis joined the UK football team as a walk-on kicker in 1994, but after coaches saw his speed, he moved to wide receiver. He played in 18 games as a Cat, catching five passes, and returning ten kickoffs for an average of 23-yards. He also received several awards of courage during his time on the team, including the Arete Award for Courage in Sports, the Gene Autrey Award for Courage in Sports, and the Johnny Unitas Courage Award in Sports. He was even selected to run in the Olympic Torch Relay for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Harold now lives in Lexington with his wife and three children. In addition to being a motivational speaker, he’s an entrepreneur and successful business owner.
His story is just one of many from the Carrollton crash. Check out a trailer for the documentary below:
Now, news and views.
Closing the door on the Andrew Wiggins Saga
On Tuesday, we said goodbye to Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins proved his brother right and shocked the world when he picked Kansas over Kentucky, Florida State, and North Carolina in a small ceremony at his high school’s gym. The whole scene was very surreal, from all of Twitter anxiously awaiting a random Marshall beat writer’s tweet to Wiggins’ decision itself. In the minutes leading up to the announcement, we clung to pictures being sent out from the school, including one of Wiggins and his mother walking into the gym with a giant portrait of Jesus behind their backs (or was it Chuck Norris? Hard to tell). Wiggins caught everyone off guard by announcing his decision to play for Kansas six minutes before schedule, sending the BBN spinning, Kansas fans cheering, and the rest of the world wondering what the hell just happened. In this day and age of nationally televised recruiting announcements, Wiggins’ small announcement is more of a testament to his personality than anything else. He is a shy, soft spoken kid who just wants to play ball, and you know what? That’s fine. Let him do that at Kansas. He’s a freak athlete and an amazing player.
But as Cal has said time and time again, Kentucky isn’t for everyone. Throughout Wiggins’ recruitment, it became clear that his father, Mitchell, wanted him at a school in which he would have all of the spotlight. At Kansas, he’ll have more spotlight than he would at Kentucky, with a better chance to win than at Florida State. After the announcement, Mitchell told the Courier-Journal’s Adam Himmelsbach “this will be [Andrew’s] time,” and said that he’s always respected Cal, which made his son’s decision “extra tough.” Funnily enough, his mom said that her favorite part about Kentucky was that it was “country.” She must really love Kansas.
While Wiggins picking Florida State would have been the ideal consolation scenario for Cats fans, him being at Kansas is better than North Carolina. Kansas jumped up into most analysts’ top tens after the announcement, but they will still be very young. If Wiggins had gone to UNC, the Tarheels would be a legitimate title contender and the December 14th matchup in Chapel Hill would be that much harder to win. Now, the only chance UK has of playing against Wiggins will come in March, and in Cal’s words, I like my team.
With that, we move on. One of the best things about Kentucky’s place in Wiggins’ recruitment was that they had the least to gain from his services. The Cats still have the best recruiting class in history, and are still the consensus number one team in the country heading into next season. They’re still the favorite to win the title, and the six All-Americans have already had a chance to form some chemistry on the court. Julius Randle has been a beast since coming back from his injury, and could end up having more of an impact on this team than Wiggins ever could. As Cal said a month ago, he likes his class, and with a key group of “veterans” returning, the pieces are once again in place for another championship run.
Perhaps sensing the BBN’s blues, Cal is holding a media opportunity Wednesday morning. What will he discuss? Who knows. Maybe the basketball team’s 3.4 GPA this spring (the highest of all UK’s men’s teams)? Maybe the end of the signing period? Or maybe he’ll just be badass and sit down and read the roster. In fact, let’s all do that right now:
Tuesday evening, Emmanuel Mudiay told ZagsBlog that he’s getting ready to narrow his list from ten to five. Will the Cats make the cut? Based on Mudiay’s glowing comments about Calipari, I think that’s a definite “yes”:
“Calipari, he’s tough on his guards and that’s one thing. I look towards having a coach that’s real tough, that can challenge me. That’s what I like to play on and when somebody challenges me, that’s what I like. That’s one thing he has in him, he challenges a lot of guards. He’s got the one-and-done thing, so that’s important to me.
The top point guard in the 2014 class also said that he “highly doubts” that he’ll play on the same team as Tyus Jones, which, in turn, means Jahlil Okafor. Anxious for the next big recruiting storyline? There you go.
— Congrats to Jordan Gay, a Danville High School alum and Centre College senior who signed a deal with the Carolina Panthers earlier this week. The talented kicker was offered a deal after impressing the Panthers staff at their recent rookie mini-camp. Going into the NFL draft, he was ranked the 15th best kicker in the nation and will be Centre’s 19th player in the NFL. Go Ads and go Colonels.
— Allow me some more alma mater love if you will. The nation has fallen in love with Stephen Curry during the playoffs, and with very good reason. But the Davidson alum is much, much more than an on-court talent with a really hot mom. If you get a chance, read this heartwarming story about how Curry helped make a dying man’s wish come true by getting him and his daughter (a Davidson alum) floor level seats to a game against the Trailblazers, and coming to meet him afterwards. Good on ya, Steph.
— Finally, be sure to check out @UK2014Class, a twitter account started by UK football’s current 2014 commitments. Their mission? Recruit more of the nation’s top players to Kentucky to get the class in the top ten nationally. The momentum in UK football right is higher than Willie Nelson on the way home from Bonnaroo.
That’s all for now. See you in the morning.