A Shout Out to Bill Keightley


Mr Wildcat with Ramel Bradley.

Sure wish he could have been here for this season.  He would have enjoyed this one.

I’m certain he would have loved Wall and Patterson:

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari


On the play of John Wall and Patrick Patterson tonight …

“I asked him, is that you’re A-game? Pretty good. He makes us different obviously. Let me tell you what I loved what he did. There were three or four times where he should have passed the ball but he didn’t in transition. There are times he’s moving so fast he’s not recognizing that stuff. But here is what I appreciated; he’s saying to me we have to get Patrick [Patterson] some shots here. At the end let’s get DeMarcus [Cousins] the ball. That’s a leader; he has a feel for his team, wants to keep everybody happy and wants to keep them involved. I told Patrick, shoot threes. He’s looking at me like I’m crazy. I said, you shoot the five-minute three-point shooting drill everyday and he makes as many three’s as our guards. I said, it’s you thinking you’re going to miss it, just shoot it. He’s still not in sync with what we need, and I have to figure out how we play him and really get the most out him and him get the most out of what we’re trying to do. What a great kid though, in the first half he said he’s fine. He just wants to win. They want him to be our best player.”

John Wall:

It’s just how it is. College is just like high school. If you’re a good player you play certain teams with certain players that will go after you. That’s how it is in college, but it’s not a one-man show. I have Kentucky basketball on my chest and I’m trying to support my team and do the best I can to help them win games.”

Rest in Peace, Bill.

Senator Mitch McConnell honors William “Mr. Wildcat” Keightley on the Senate Floor

Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to a man who was a fixture of Kentucky basketball, with a fervent passion for competition and a fast loyalty to his country, his State, and his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Bill Keightley, affectionately known as “Mr. Wildcat,” passed away recently at the age of 81. He embodied the spirit and tradition that is Kentucky basketball. Born William Bond Keightley in 1926, Mr. Keightley was an All-State center for the Kavanaugh High School basketball team in his hometown of Lawrenceburg, KY.

He later enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and bravely served his country during World War II. After the war, Mr. Keightley spent much of his young adulthood working as a mail carrier.

Then in 1962, his friend and fellow postman George Hukle asked him to help out washing jerseys and towels for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. Over the next 4 1/2 decades, he proved himself indispensable as the school’s top cheerleader, ambassador of goodwill and confidante to players and coaches alike.

“Mr. Bill,” as he was called by friends and family, witnessed three national championships, befriended six head coaches, and cared for hundreds of players over his long career.

Loved by fans and respected by opponents, he earned a permanent seat on the Kentucky bench at every game. In fact, Mr. Keightley attended more than 1,400 UK basketball games, nearly 60 percent of all games ever recorded. And former UK basketball coach Orlando “Tubby” Smith points out that “it has been . . . us [coaches] sitting next to him,
not him sitting next to us.”

Mr. Keightley often served as a father-like figure to the players, and many recall his talks with “his boys” on anything from Kentucky sports to lessons of integrity and pride. “Players, coaches, and athletic directors come and go, but Bill Keightley was constant,” says Kenny Walker, a friend and former UK player.

John Pelphrey, member of the “Unforgettable” 1992 Wildcats team and now head coach at Arkansas University, says: For 48 years, Mr. Bill looked over coaches and student-athletes with love and care that only a father could give…every time we had an encounter, there was a hearty hello,a hug, and a laugh, every single time, just like the first time.

In 1997, Mr. Bill’s jersey was elevated into the rafters of Rupp Arena, making him one of only two people to receive this honor without having taken to the court to play the game.

In 2005, he was entered with the charter class into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame. The equipment room in Lexington’s Memorial Coliseum was named in his honor, and he humbly presided over it until his unfortunate passing this past March 31.

Noted Lexington sportscaster and friend Dave Baker says of Mr. Keightley:

He knew just when to lend a hand to the young man from Appalachia who was adjusting to the big city, or a young man who had been recruited from out-of-state and was getting accustomed to a brand new life in Kentucky. Mr. Keightley lived his life as a celebration.

Perhaps the most lasting tribute to Bill began in 2002, when the University of Kentucky athletic department presented its first Bill Keightley Award to the individual “who exemplifies the pride, respect, and positive attributes” associated with the University of Kentucky basketball program. They still present this award annually, to honor Mr. Bill.

UK followers and basketball lovers across the Commonwealth have lost the sport’s No. 1 fan. And I know I speak for all of them when I say our prayers and best wishes of support go out to his family, including his wife, Hazel; and his daughter and son-in-law, Karen and Alden Marlowe.

UK President Lee Todd, Jr., best expressed what many Kentuckians are feeling when he said that we have “lost someone who was not only the face of Kentucky Wildcat basketball, but the University itself.” I second his words, and add to them my own: We will not soon forget the loyalty, passion, and dedication to excellence that Bill Keightley

I yield the floor.

Mr Wildcat — One Shining Moment

Mr Bill Keightley aka Mister Wildcat honored this year in CBS’s National Championship One Shining Moment Video Montage.

Later Monday evening, learning that long-time Kentucky equipment manager Bill Keightley had passed away left this reporter speechless.

Mr. Wildcat worked 48 years on the sidelines for the University of Kentucky, starting with Adolph Rupp and most recently working with Billy Gillispie. Keightley was a staple of the UK program and touched so many fans across the Bluegrass state, evident in the 3,000 plus attendants of his public memorial Thursday evening.

Being left speechless is a rarity for this reporter for those of you who know me.

As I looked at the lives of both men, the quality that stands out the most is loyalty.

I guess the important thing to do is follow my dad’s advice. Yikes, did I really just say that? But, seriously though, father knows best and he told me to love what you do and it won’t feel like work.

Nuxhall and Keightley followed those words until they left this world. And while it is sad to think that two legends in their own rights are gone, hopefully we can learn from the lives they led.

Jenny Elder Richmond Register

The Keightley family requests memorial donations be made to:

The Bill Keightley “Mr. Wildcat” Basketball Managers Scholarship Fund
UK Office of Development
100 Sturgill Development Buildings
Lexington, KY 40506-0015.