Calipari makes large donation to charity

While it has been easy for many to criticize John Calipari at times, there are also things the Kentucky basketball coach does that deserve praise.

While it has been easy for many to criticize John Calipari at times, there are also things the Kentucky basketball coach does that deserve praise.

Remember the Hoops for Haiti telethon he organized that was a huge success during basketball season.

And now word comes out of Memphis that Calipari has donated $1 million — payable over five years — to Streets Ministries, a e group that works to help underprivileged children in Memphis.

"When I've talked to Cal in the past, he said he's probably given money back to every city he's lived in," Streets founder Ken Bennett told writer Jody Callahan of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis Tuesday. "He knows a lot more about Streets and our plans than maybe some of the other places he gives."

Bennett's organization, founded in 1987, was instrumental in helping former Tiger Antonio Burks turn his life around after a discouraging childhood. Calipari grew close to Bennett and the group after recruiting Burks to the Tigers in 2000.

"This is a validation of what Coach Cal thinks about Ken and the work Streets has done," John Wilfong, a Streets board member and former Memphis basketball player, told Callahan.

Wilfong thinks Calipari got a bad rap in Memphis when he left the Tigers to coach at Kentucky.

"I think that this community really owes coach Calipari a big thank you, not just for this, but for what he did for nine years as the coach of the Tigers," Wilfong told Callahan.

Calipari issued this statement about the donation:

"(My wife) Ellen and I are constantly looking for alliances that serve our mission of helping underprivileged children in both Kentucky and Memphis. We're thrilled to be able to help Streets Ministries and Ken Bennett in any way we can."

It's another charitable contribution that the UK coach certainly can afford but also did not have to make. It's part of who Calipari is. He does genuinely seem to care about helping others in need and has shown that.

So while those who want to question his recruiting tactics have every right to do so, those same folks should also be willing to give him a pat on the back for a job well done when it makes a hefty contribution like this to a worthwhile cause.


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