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John Calipari on what motivates his players

Getty Images Julius Mays

Getty Images

By now, you surely know that John Calipari’s new book, “Players First,” is in bookstores. You can order the book online here, or buy it during one of Cal’s book-signing events across the state. is releasing excerpts from the books over the next few days, beginning with this one on the “Players First” motto Cal adopted when he came to UK, and what motivates his players. Here’s just a snippet of it:

I ask the young men entrusted to me to dig deep within and explore what motivates them. “What is your ‘why?’ ” I ask them. “Why are you playing basketball for the University of Kentucky, and what do you hope to achieve?”

A lot of them tell me their “why” is that they want to take care of their families. That means different things to different kids. Not every one of them is headed to the NBA. Julius Mays, a steadying influence on our turbulent 2012—13 team, memorably said, in front of all his teammates, “I’m my mother’s only son, and I’m not going to fail.” Other players tell me, “I’m going to take care of my mom and my grandma because they’ve been through so much for me. I’m going give them the world once I make it to the league, because I promised them that.”

That makes me love Julius Mays even more. To read the full excerpt, head on over to

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

7 Comments for John Calipari on what motivates his players

  1. Kevin C.
    4:12 pm April 16, 2014 Permalink

    I remember that quote from Uncle Julius. So where is he now…besides not interning on the UK bench?

    • DH
      4:18 pm April 16, 2014 Permalink

      Playing professionally in Italy

  2. Link
    4:23 pm April 16, 2014 Permalink

    “Cal’s book-signing events across the state” link doesn’t work. Can someone give the correct one?

  3. Larry
    4:26 pm April 16, 2014 Permalink

    Young said the second quote, during the ESPN 3 part special on uk last season

    7:41 pm April 16, 2014 Permalink