Since the Kentucky football team walked out of Thursday’s practice, the players and coaches have heard criticism for taking what some might consider a controversial stance. For Mark Stoops, he had no other choice.
Many stories have been shared between the football players since protests broke out across the country in March. It led to a march through Lexington orchestrated by Stoops, Vince Marrow and the rest of the Wildcat players over the summer. Yesterday they made another symbolic gesture by defiantly walking out of practice. These kinds of conversations are not new to Mark Stoops.
Today on Kentucky Sports Radio UK’s head football coach opened up about his relationship with one former player that’s unlike any other. Over the last five years, Alex Montgomery has been like a second son to Mark Stoops.
“Alex got hurt, got hurt again, was drifting away in school, was going to float away and I wouldn’t stand for it. I brought him in, I got close to him and I got to know him even more, I got to know him personally better and he was done playing. It would have been real easy for me to just turn over and go to the next guy,” Stoops said.
“He really had nowhere to go. He had no family. When he grew up, he woke up one morning and half his siblings were gone. His grandmother told him when he asked where his mother was, his grandmother told him, ‘Your mom didn’t want you.’ He has no one in this world. I’m his father and Chantel his mother.”
I don’t think people understand how grateful I am that I came to UK.
— MONT? (@AMont17) August 28, 2020
By taking in Alex, he’s grown closer to Stoops’ young sons. The stories Montgomery would share sometimes baffled Stoops. One night he needed to go pick up his girlfriend’s car. When Stoops suggested him walk to go get it, Alex responded:
“‘Are you crazy? You think I can walk through that neighborhood at 10 o’clock at night and get her car?’ This was way before any of this movement was going on. You start hearing that and you’re close to these kids and you realize the stories that they have, how can you not be affected by it? How can I relate to him if I don’t stand up with him right now?”
That’s just one small example of the injustices Stoops has witnessed since inviting Montgomery into his family.
“To take it further, his girlfriend her family disowned her, why? Because she’s dating a black man,” Stoops said. “These are my kids. I’m quite sure I’ll walk her down the aisle. I don’t put up with this fake stuff, putting things on Twitter just to get a pat on the back. That is so not me. I purposely don’t so stuff because I don’t want to be viewed that way. This is personal. These are my people. These are people that I’m close to, that I love that are like family to me. To not make difference, to not stand with them is wrong.”
This story is just one of the many reasons Mark Stoops stands besides his players as they move to make positive change during a tumultuous time in our country.