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Long Journey Led Billy Gillispie to his Kidney Donor

Photo: @D2Diva


After years of basketball, moving, traveling, and more basketball, a newspaper article brought Billy Gillispie and Ericka Downey together.  Stricken with kidney disease, the former Kentucky basketball coach found hope, and a new kidney, from a stranger.

“I was just sitting on the floor cleaning and I took a break,” Downey told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “I came across a story in the Dallas Morning News about Coach Gillispie. I just immediately felt I was supposed to help.”

The wife of a nomadic college coach, Downey’s decision to pursue a kidney donation had nothing to do with basketball and everything to do with faith.

“I think that’s where the initial tug came from,” she said. “Obviously, we don’t have Jesus sitting right next to us to have those conversations. But when you’re founded in faith, He’s present in what I feel is the Holy Spirit.

“It was faith initiated. It was emotionally tied to basketball, but it was faith initiated. And it has turned into such a blessing not only for me and my family, but as a way to talk about this. It’s given a platform to help others. I read there are 116,000 people still waiting on the donor list for a transplant. And we all have two kidneys.”

The procedure has been approved by the Mayo Clinic and for the first time, Gillispie and Downey met Thursday night at the Final Four (with a little help from Bob Huggins).

[Charleston Gazette-Mail]


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

9 Comments for Long Journey Led Billy Gillispie to his Kidney Donor

  1. ready4nineNOW
    9:34 am April 1, 2018 Permalink

    NO WAY that she is that guy’s wife. Maybe I need to go to church more.

    • RealCatsFan
      10:52 am April 1, 2018 Permalink

      You probably do…

  2. ClutchCargo
    9:45 am April 1, 2018 Permalink

    Yeah, she is.

  3. Matty Arbuckle
    11:33 am April 1, 2018 Permalink

    I bet Billy G is hoping to give her one of his organs in return?

  4. Moof41224
    12:29 pm April 1, 2018 Permalink

    Wish everyone could get a kidney that fast. I have been waiting 3 years so far.

  5. 1965Pointer
    1:33 pm April 1, 2018 Permalink

    If a couple of these posts are really from BBN, I’m disappointed in you. It’s a courageous thing this woman is doing, and remember, you might be in Gillespie’s condition someday. Show a little class and respect.

  6. MasterBurglar
    4:09 pm April 1, 2018 Permalink

    Bless her for do no such a selfless act. I hope that both have a speedy recovery and do even greater things with their lives.

  7. catlaska
    4:07 pm April 2, 2018 Permalink

    Wonderful news! Good for her!