This week, John Calipari invited his old pal Drake on his podcast, which is now available on the interwebs. Since the two met almost ten years ago, Drake’s become a big Kentucky fan, introducing Calipari at Big Blue Madness in person in 2014 and then via (a really odd) video in 2015. Obviously, having Drake, one of biggest stars in the entertainment industry, as one of your program’s most prominent fans is huge for recruiting, and I’m sure prospects across the nation are listening to Calipari’s podcast for the first time today, cringing at his ad reads and wondering why in the world his wife makes food when they’re rich enough to eat out every night.
Drake tells the story of when he first visited Calipari at Kentucky in 2009 and how that experience inspired him to go back to high school and finish his degree (he dropped out early to be on Degrassi).
“When I came to Lexington and met you, I didn’t want to leave. I would probably have traded my life at that moment to play Kentucky basketball and be under you and it felt like a mentor, it felt like a father figure, it felt like this incredible feeling, and at 26 years old, it made me go and reconnect with the teacher that I loved the most from grades nine through eleven before I decided to stop going to high school, and I reconnected with her and — we still talk every day — but at that point in time, we would talk a lot and I asked her if she would help me graduate high school. And I felt like I was doing it just in honor — and this is not just to say this because I’m on this show — to honor what I had seen in Lexington and feeling like I was part of something.”
Listening, recruits? It gets better.
“The Kentucky basketball program — honestly, I mean it from the bottom of my heart — you’re one of my most iconic mentors in my life, period,” Drake says. “Coming to Lexington and seeing the basketball program, seeing the way that, not only your team, not only your staff, but an entire culture, an entire city looks at you as a this figure that they can always find solitude in, it really was inspiring to me and reminded me why that’s so important.”
This whole story started when Calipari asked Drake where he would play college basketball, and Drake eventually gave him this answer.
“To answer your question, there’s no doubt in my mind. I wouldn’t have to do some big spectacle of choices with different caps on the table. I would go straight to Kentucky because I’d have to play under you. That would be one of the greatest things to ever happen in my life.”
Of course, as he reminded us in the layup line at Madness in 2014, Drake is not a basketball star:
Tune in to the podcast for more of Drake’s stories, and if you’re like me, marvel at how much he and Karl Towns sound alike.