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Calipari calls Kentucky fan after hearing of her father’s death

When Bill Bowen, a UK grad and Cats fan in Hilton Head, passed away earlier this month, his daughter Julie never expected to hear from John Calipari. But that’s exactly what happened this morning when Coach Cal called Julie’s personal cell phone to offer his condolences.

She told KSR this morning that her father’s death was completely unexpected and it happened immediately after Kentucky’s win over Wisconsin in the Final Four. They talked by phone after the game, as they did after every UK game, when Bowen told her he couldn’t breathe. At first she thought he meant from the excitement, she said, but then realized something was wrong. He died moments later.

That story somehow got back to John Calipari — she said she has no idea how — and he gave her a call today.

It’s stories like these that show what John Calipari truly means to Big Blue Nation and they probably happen more often than we’ll ever know.

Julie said she is clueless as to how he got her cell phone number.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

18 Comments for Calipari calls Kentucky fan after hearing of her father’s death

  1. James Milicki
    12:09 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    class act as always !!!

  2. tltaworl
    12:22 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    My father passed away 4 days after the ’98 championship. Just before he died my uncle brought a ball signed by Tubby. For those of us who love UK it is an awesome tribute that makes the process tolerable. We are all called to displace grace and compassion to others, whether you know them or not. Proud to have Cal as our coach.

  3. Brian
    12:33 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    What a awesome gesture Coach Cal. Always making Kentucky and the University so proud. We so appreciate all that you do.

  4. Boogie Fan
    12:36 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Cool thing to do by Cal. He is the best. Sorry for her loss. Any chance its Julie Bowen of Modern Family?

  5. scott jackson
    1:10 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    While I do not know Cal… I do know Julie. I can tell you that this meant more to her than anyone could know. We even discussed that her father could not have planned it better himself. Her whole family was moved. Ego can moan and speculate and try to throw dirt at Cal all he wants. Here is the fact… It made Bill’s family feel like his fandom was appreciated by the very team he adored. No one knows this fan base and what a simple phone call could mean more than Cal. He gets it. He is not only a players first coach, but a people first coach! Anyone who has ever lost knows you just want to believe others cared about your lost loved one and saw a little of what you saw in them. The Bowen family can now see through this call and through the love shown here on KSR that BBN gets it even when EGO does not. Thanks BBN and Coach..

  6. Cordell Powless
    1:21 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    The man they are talking about was a pillar in my community, and in a town where much of my family is from. I never saw him without some form off UK attire on. He was truly a superfan. And also, an exceptional tennis player which I know Matt and Drew you appreciate. Well put Scott Jackson.

  7. kadizkat
    2:35 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Why the Pete Thamel’s Pat Forde’s and their ilk cannot see the good side of Coach Cal is beyond me.

  8. NativeGal
    3:35 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    The history of out beloved UK Coaches goes well beyond what is reported. My Great Grand Mother, a true die hard UK fan, was very ill and yes, she never missed a game on the TV. Coach Hall, signed a personal UK team photo for her, sent it and it sat by her beside. We lost her shortly after.
    You never know how one small gesture of kindness to those unknown, can make something so FAN’tastic as the touch of UK’s Basketball program, reaching out to the fans that love them.
    Blessing to your family for your loss.

  9. UKkathy
    4:27 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    What a tremendous gesture. Coach Cal is very compassionate and truly ‘cares’ about the players AND the fans. I have received several responses to letters I have written and I shall keep them always. I had a most wonderful personally written and signed note from Coach Rupp way back in the day which unfortunately was burned up in a fire. And what a blessing to know that Coach Call continues these wonderful kind acts and I’m sure he could not care less if they got out to the public. He does it for the ‘fans’ not the press. The sports-writer haters can go off in any direction they want, and the disbelievers will believe what they what, but the ones who matter, know better. Thanks for being our Coach and we hope you stay until you retire. You make us very proud. GO CATS!

  10. NYC Wildcat Alum
    5:24 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    In Cal We Trust !!!!!!!!! When we went to the Final Four in Houston in 2011, I took as my guest, a dear friend of mine who lived in Houston but who was also losing his battle with cancer. As a Platinum K Club Member, I called Coach Cal’s office to let his assistant know that I was bringing a guest, and to ask that if Coach Cal could find the time, I’d love to introduce him to my friend.

    At the very first K Club event, Coach Cal came immediately came over to me, and asked to meet my friend Barry. He chatted with Barry for a few minutes, and encouraged him to get well and keep up his fight, and he gave my friend a certificate proclaiming him to be an official member of the BBN. It was one of the nicest things I’ve seen anyone at his level ever do. He made my friend feel like he’d live forever. Unfortunately, he did so for only another eight days.

    If anyone has anything bad they want to say about Coach Cal, give me a call first.

    Go Big Blue !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Mike Combs
    5:55 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Bill Bowen…. Da’ Mayor of Sea Pines Beach Club, Hilton Head Island. Oh, how he would have loved this. Your Honor….. This Budweiser Moment is for you good friend.

  12. Avery Day
    6:25 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Remarkable. CAL goes to mass every day. That’s commitment. I am delighted to hear these stories. Coach CAL must be one good human.

  13. Tking
    6:53 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Wow. Went to Hilton Head every year fom louisville,on spring break. Always looked forward to talking to Bill during happy hour during our trip. Struck up conversation always about the cats. He told us don’t worry about this years cats there are going to surprise. He had a pair of wildcat tennis shoes that he always wore. They finally wore out and that he retired and couldn’t find replacements but still looking. Now he has a new pair. God bless him and his family!!

  14. BGSteve
    8:54 pm April 29, 2014 Permalink

    Nothing else to say except that Cal is a class-act.

  15. Catsfanforever
    9:14 am April 30, 2014 Permalink

    Coach Cal showing that he is, indeed, one of the classiest coaches in the game today. It’s gestures like these that need to be brought into the spotlight. Tragedy about the father’s passing; however, it shows that in tragedy, people can still humble themselves and show they care. AWESOME JOB COACH CAL!!!

  16. JoeDMart
    10:29 am April 30, 2014 Permalink

    Coach Cal keepin’ UK coaches’ concern for others alive. As a child I lived across the street from Coach Rupp. One day I sprained my ankle and his son, Herky, told him about it. Coach came over that evening and took a look at it. He asked my parents to soak some strips of brown paper torn from grocery bags in vinegar. He then proceeded to get down and wrap my ankle with these strips. It helped but we had no idea why and he didn’t explain, Years later, when I was in UK Engineering school, I realized that as the vinegar evaporated it cooled my ankle. Of course today we would use crushed Ice, but it wasn’t available then hence Coach Rupp’s solution — just lookin’ out for others. Coach Cal Is keeping Coach Rupp’s lead alive in more ways than one.

  17. Jan Carlock
    10:41 am April 30, 2014 Permalink

    What a beautiful story! Bill was a friend of mine from high school and EIU college days (before he went to Murray State and Kentucky). We stayed in touch via e-mail and visits back to our hometown. Our daughter graduated from UK in 1991, and after that we had many conversations about the Wildcats. But this story is the best – a coach reaching out to a grieving family – going way beyond the expected – doing a very humanistic personal “act of kindness.” Thanks Coach Calipari!

  18. Becky
    2:10 pm April 30, 2014 Permalink

    That was awesome of him. Don’t want to trade him. Sorry for that lady’s loss.