Typical attire at a college basketball game can range from jerseys to a t-shirt in the team’s colors to even some face paint or custom jacket. But one thing you don’t see very often is a guy in full coal miner getup, completely with work boots and dusty face, sitting in the stands.
Michael McGuire attended the University of Kentucky Wildcats Blue-White basketball scrimmage that was played in Pikeville, Kentucky, alongside his 3-year-old son, Easton. Wearing his work uniform and boots, the dad’s face and arms are covered in black coal dust. The reason for his interesting look? He rushed straight from work because he didn’t want to miss his son’s first basketball game experience.
Kentucky basketball fan Sue Kinneer took the photo and posted it on several fan pages, hoping to track down the family and get staff’s attention. Her goal was to get the child an autograph or some fun memorabilia. However, her plan worked even better than she could have hoped for.
Wildcats head coach John Calipari took notice of the dad and shared a picture of him on Twitter, expressing his admiration for McGuire’s dedication to his family while also working a hard job. He also noted that his family came from coal miners, so this dad’s occupation hit even closer to home for Calipari.
“My family’s American dream started in a Clarksburg, WV coal mine, so this picture hits home. From what I’ve been told, after his shift, he raced to be with his son & watch our team. Don’t know who this is, but I have tickets for him & his family at Rupp to be treated as VIPs!!,” Calipari tweeted.
He noted how the photo made him think about his grandfather, who was a coal miner, expressing admiration for him and all coal minters.
“I’ve thought a lot today about my grandfather, who worked underground in the mine. I’ve also had the privilege to go underground with miners in KY and a comment stuck out to me: “We go down together and we come up together.” They work for each other. The ultimate teammates!!” he continued.
The University of Kentucky basketball team plays home games at Rupp Area.
McGuire’s wife, Mollie, tweeted the coach back. “This is my Husband Micheal McGuire with our son Easton!”
Soon after, the family got connected with Calipari and the Wildcat staff. McGuire couldn’t believe that a photo of him was going viral. He told CNN affiliate WKYT that he was at work underground when the news took off and had no clue he was becoming an internet sensation.
“When I got out and got service on my way home, it went crazy … I couldn’t believe that it was real,” he said.
According to McGuire, he only had about 45 minutes to get to the game when he got off work on Saturday and he didn’t want to miss his son Easton’s first basketball experience.
“It was either go straight there, or miss half the game to go home and take a shower and everything,” he told the affiliate.
So, he decided to just go straight there. Now, that’s a dedicated dad.
Calipari told reporters that he talked to his team about McGuire in the locker room, even showing them the photo of the dirt-covered dad.
“...I talked about hard, backbreaking work that’s honorable work, but that he makes time for his son, even when he knew he couldn’t shower. It didn’t matter what he looked like, he just wanted to be with his son,” Calipari said.
While the McGuire family isn’t sure yet what game they’re going to for the VIP treatment, they are looking forward to another great experience as a family.