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Reggie Warford, UK basketball player and key figure in integration efforts, dies at 67

Reggie Warford, UK basketball player and key figure in integration efforts, dies at 67

LEXINGTON — Reggie Warford, the second Black varsity player to just take the court for Kentucky basketball, died Thursday early morning. He was 67.

Warford was the to start with Black basketball player to devote four several years at Kentucky and graduate from the college. He arrived on campus in 1972, two several years after Tom Payne broke the shade barrier in the software. Payne invested only just one time at Uk.

A Drakesboro, Kentucky, indigenous, Warford experienced battled a assortment of wellbeing problems around the last 10 years, going through various organ transplants. In accordance to a 2019 story from WKYT, he developed sarcopenia, a neuromuscular condition that leads to the decline of muscle mass mass and strength, when recovering from the transplants.

“I know how substantially Reggie intended to Kentucky and how he encouraged many others,” UK coach John Calipari tweeted Thursday. “Reggie and I worked jointly at Pitt in the 80s and have remained mates. I’m going to miss my brother, might God bless you Reggie.”

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University of North Carolina at Charlotte's Bob Ball appears to get a ball full in the face as he struggles to gain possession against University of Kentucky's Reggie Warford during first half of their NIT playoff game at New York's Madison Square Garden, March 21, 1976. Kentucky won 71-67.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Bob Ball appears to get a ball whole in the face as he struggles to gain possession towards College of Kentucky’s Reggie Warford in the course of initial fifty percent of their NIT playoff sport at New York’s Madison Square Yard, March 21, 1976. Kentucky won 71-67.

Warford, who to begin with committed to Austin Peay in higher school, was the very first recruit signed by Joe B. Hall after he changed Adolph Rupp as Kentucky mentor in 1972. A 2nd-team All-State variety from Drakesboro Higher Faculty, Warford averaged 26 points per activity as a senior.

“I imagine that Coach Corridor required me as significantly to be a person that would be in this article, that would do the correct points, would not mess up and draw in other African American gamers after that,” Warford said in a 2018 interview with UK’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. “That’s accurately what occurred.”

Across four seasons at Kentucky, Warford appeared in 50 games, averaging 4.1 details for every recreation. As a senior, he averaged 6.5 factors and 2.4 assists for every video game in 28 video games.

Warford was the only Black participant on the workforce in Hall’s first period as coach in 1972-73. He was joined by Larry Johnson and Merion Haskins in 1973. A year later, Kentucky signed Jack Givens and James Lee, who went on to type the nucleus of the 1978 nationwide championship workforce.

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“I utilized to say that I was the mistaken guy to integrate Kentucky entirely,” Warford stated. “The explanation I employed to say that is for the reason that every time you see the story about the first African American player to go someplace, he had to be super exclusive, he had to be over and above the pale. The Jackie Robinsons, Perry Wallace at Vanderbilt. You experienced to be amazing for your tale to be instructed. I designed this remark and just one of the fellas claimed, ‘Wait a moment, That was not what essential to be explained to.’

“… My value to the College of Kentucky was not by how perfectly I dribbled a basketball or shot a basketball. My objective was to display other guys of my ethnicity what was feasible listed here.”

Soon after his actively playing occupation, Warford worked as an assistant mentor at Pittsburgh, Iowa Condition and Lengthy Beach front Condition. He invested a person year as the head coach of the Harlem Globetrotters. Warford’s very last time as an assistant at Pitt in 1985-86 coincided with Calipari’s initially seasons as an assistant there.

He coached at various significant educational institutions, such as Muhlenberg County. In 2019, Warford was inducted into the KHSAA Corridor of Fame.

“Reggie Warford performed an important function in the background of United kingdom Athletics,” UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart reported in a statement. “His job as a player and university student, and his existence as a native Kentuckian, helped set the stage for the ongoing progress of integration of Kentucky basketball and our entire athletics plan. We are deeply saddened by his passing and our condolences are with his loved ones, close friends and teammates.”

Email Jon Hale at [email protected] Stick to him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ

This article initially appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Reggie Warford, 1st Black Kentucky basketball participant to graduate, dies