While Senior Day is traditionally focused on fourth-year players hitting their home court one final time, it’s not always that simple, especially at Kentucky. The one-and-done era has created a different kind of Senior Day in recent seasons, and Reid Travis’ injury only further complicated the matter this year.
Plus, there are other people to honor: the cheerleaders, the dancers, the band members and, of course, the managers. Throughout all of their time at the University of Kentucky, each senior has contributed in one way or another. But manager Randy Gregory III’s story is truly unique.
In a new article by Kyle Tucker for The Athletic, Gregory opens up about his family, his humble beginnings, his relationships with the players and why senior day meant so much not only for himself, but for his family.
The team with Randy Gregory, one of our senior managers, and his father. Thrilled he can be here for Senior Day. My prediction is Randy will be a great coach. His attention to detail, his relationship with our players and his ability to teach set him apart. Proud of you, Randy!!! pic.twitter.com/6w78DFB62k
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) March 8, 2019
Gregory moved to Lexington from Baltimore in order to attend UK; he has dreams of becoming a head coach one day, and decided working for the winningest program in college basketball would be a good place to start. Back in Maryland, his mom, Nina, is doing the unimaginable: caring for her ex-husband, her son’s father, while he lives with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (or ALS, also known as Lou Gerhig’s disease).
The incurable illness has left Randy Gregory Jr. in a wheelchair, unable to move or speak. He communicates through a computer, but he can still wink and occasionally crack a smile. He can definitely still cry. That’s exactly what he was able to do – in person – for his son’s senior day.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 9, 2019
The article goes on to tell a truly moving story – from splitting a $5 dinner from McDonalds with his mom and little sister to becoming “family” with former players like Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo and Hamidou Diallo, Gregory III’s story is incredible. Tyler Herro exchanges trash talk with Gregory to prepare for road environments; Isaiah Briscoe says he considers Gregory a little brother.
In addition to the relationships he’s formed with the players, Gregory has also strengthened his relationship with the rest of Kentucky’s staff. Assistant coach Kenny Payne, who knows Gregory’s father through a connection in Baltimore, has not only become Gregory’s mentor, but also his friend.
“I love Randy Gregory just like I love Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro. Just because he’s not on the floor with a jersey on doesn’t mean he’s not part of our team,” Payne told The Athletic. “Every day that he’s been in this program for four years, he’s been on my hip, doing workouts with me, learning how we teach, watching film with me. His work ethic is unbelievable, his loyalty to our players and our staff is second to none, so the least that I can do is go to all-out war to help that kid become a success story.”
So what did senior day mean to Gregory and his family?
“For a dude that coached community college basketball and always loved the game to be here, at the Mecca, and meet these type of players, meet these type of coaches, I know that’s huge for him,” Randy III says of his father. “That will be one more crazy experience for him, seeing all this, seeing where I work. He’ll love that.”
I can’t praise this story enough. For the whole article, click here.