Taylon Vail’s life was cut short when he was struck by stray bullets from a drive-by shooting in West Memphis this past April. Vail, a 16-year-old with a promising future in basketball, was asleep on his grandmother’s couch when he was killed.
Vail’s family is having a hard time coping with the loss of such a young life, especially Taylon’s mother, Tabatha Vail; but John Calipari was able to put a smile on her face with a recent act of kindness.
In a new story in The Memphis Commercial Appeal, we learn Calipari shipped a custom UK basketball jersey with Vail’s name across the back, in addition to an official scholarship offer to the University of Kentucky, Vail’s dream school.
“When I opened it up – oh my goodness – I was bawling crying,” Vail said. “I was so excited.”
Inside was a custom, blue Kentucky jersey marked with her son’s last name and his favorite number. On the front, it was signed by Wildcats coach John Calipari.
Accompanying the gear was a letter and an official scholarship offer, intended to fulfill a dream that was tragically stopped short his freshman year of high school.
It was a moment that had been in the works for several weeks, spearheaded by Brown-McCormick, who initially emailed the university and kept the gifts a secret until Mother’s Day.
Taylon Vail always wanted to play college basketball, and his hope was to attend Kentucky just like fellow Arkansas prospect Malik Monk.
Calipari was able to fulfill the young kid’s dream, to which Vail’s mother said, “It’s sad that it had to come true in this way, but just to know that he’s still loved, and that John Calipari took the time to sign the jersey and offer him a full-ride – based on a story – that is the most amazing thing ever.”
Read the entire story here and be proud of your favorite basketball coach.