It’s officially the time of the year to reflect on what we’re thankful for in our lives, and the UK basketball team is no exception. Several of the players have already weighed in on what they’ll be appreciating the most this Thanksgiving.
For Tyrese Maxey, it’s simple: family.
His parents were in Rupp Arena for the Cats’ last two games, and they’re staying in Lexington through this weekend. It’s something that could go overlooked – players’ parents come to watch them compete all the time, right? But for Maxey’s dad, who wasn’t able to travel to Madison Square Garden for his son’s breakout performance due to an illness the family prefers to keep private, being able to come to Lexington is extra special.
“I’m thankful that my dad was able to travel out here. He hasn’t been able to travel lately,” Maxey said. “I’m really glad he’s here and is able to spend Thanksgiving with us. And to see my sisters – I haven’t seen them in a long time.”
The Maxey family has big plans for their time in the Bluegrass.
“We always like to go watch movies, and it’s sad because I haven’t been around lately,” Maxey said. “We missed a lot of movies! We’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Disney+, you know?”
Of course, the Cats are also thankful for each other. Nick Richards says he’s thankful for a lot of things, including his teammates and the BBN, “for supporting us throughout all of our ups-and-downs throughout the season.” Kahlil Whitney added his gratitude for the chance to play basketball at Kentucky, saying he’s “thankful to be here in this situation and to have this opportunity.”
“I’m thankful for happiness, my mental health,” Whitney added. “I’m just thankful for the people around me, the support system I have. Like I said, I’m just thankful to be here today.”
Maxey also cited the team’s unselfishness as one of his blessings, saying “we have a lot of guys who could go to other schools and drop 20 [points] every single night. Here, we share the ball [and] we don’t care who the leading scorer is. We want everybody to eat. I’m really thankful for these guys and this coaching staff.”
John Calipari included his own Thanksgiving message in Wednesday’s press conference, where he encouraged the BBN to lend a helping hand this holiday season.
“If there’s anyone in your neighborhood that you know is going to be alone, have them come to your house,” Coach Cal said. “Whether they’re old, or whether they’re single, or whether they’re just moved in, have them come to your place.”
If that’s not an option, you can take a page from the team’s playbook. Coach Calipari and the Cats will be back at the Salvation Army for another year of Thanksgiving volunteering.
“Go somewhere where you can help others have a great Thanksgiving. This is a day for all of us where we should be giving thanks for the blessings we have all been given and pay it forward.”