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  • Former Kentucky basketball player Bret Bearup passes at age 56


    He was such a highly touted recruit when he came to Kentucky from New York to play for coach Joe Hall. He was a Parade All-American as well as a McDonald’s All-American.

    Partially because he was at UK at the same time a lot of great players were (Sam Bowie, Melvin Turpin) there from 1980-85, he never got to play as much as he wanted or others expected. He did play in 114 games but had just 410 points and 308 rebounds, not nearly the numbers he expected to produce.

    Off the court, he was an all-star. He was a media favorite — and that never changed when he worked in various basketball positions, including the NBA, after leaving UK.

    Just say I was stunned to learn the news tonight that Bearup, someone I still occasionally chatted with, had passed away at age 56. His younger brother, Todd, who also played at UK, found his body Thursday in Denver.

    He leaves behind three children, and his daughter McKenzie turns 25 Friday.

    Former UK player Walter McCarty, now the head coach at Evansville, posted this on Twitter tonight: “So sad to hear the news of the passing of a good friend, father and former wildcat Brett Bearup. Rest in heaven Big B. Love you brother!!!!”

    Bearup was a bit different when it came to his sense of humor. Here’s the last tweet he posted on Twitter a few days ago: “How many battleships did France have at the onset of WW2?”

    Here’s another one: “If you don’t read books, you can say almost anything with confidence.”

    Bearup never forgot his UK roots, and not just because he became a NBA front office executive at one time. He followed all UK sports.

    “I love, love, love what you’re doing with the football program, Freddie. Great stuff,” Bearup tweeted to former UK quarterback Freddie Maggard, UK’s new director of player development, just five days ago.

    I still remember a Music City Bowl game in Nashville years ago when Bearup came to town. Myself, Kentucky Today sportswriter Keith Taylor and others ran into him in a local establishment the night before the game. He treated us all to a great evening of stories and more. He loved laughing at his own stories — and sharing a lot of war stories about himself and former UK teammates.

    It had been a little over a year since I had seen Bearup. I have no idea what happened but I pray for his family and loved ones.

    He was a special guy and I always admire that he never considered leaving UK because he didn’t get to play as much as expected. He had patience few players today have and once the blue got in his blood, it stayed there until the end.

    Rest in peace, Bret Bearup.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Bret's family--his children, and his ex-wife, with whom he remained close--ask that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to shelteringbooks.org, the non-profit charity his daughter, Mackenzie--whose 25th birthday is today--began when she was only 13 years old.

      Here's the story of his terrific daughter and how she started the charity, along with the help of her brothers, Alex and Benjamin. As of March, 2015, the three had delivered over 460,000 books to various shelters across the United States.


      Here's the website for the charity. If you have a few extra bucks to donate, there's a Paypal button on the home page for donations.


      Sheltering Books Inc has been recognized with the following community service awards:

      CNN Hero 2010

      NBC Nightly News Making a Difference

      Featured on "Great American Heroes with Trace Adkins"

      Glamour Women of the Year Reaers Choice Elite 8

      Daily Points of Light Winner

      Hands on America- Scholastic Books Be Big in Your Community winner

      America Inspired Hero

      Atlanta 20 Under 20 honoree

      Bank of America Local Hero

      Huffington Post Greatest Person of the Day

      2010 Prudential Spirit Of Community Award

      11 Alive and the Junior League Of Atlanta Kids Who Care Award 2009

      Nestles Very Best In Youth Award 2009

      Seventeen Magazine Mission Award 2009

      Pottery Barn Teen of the Month May 2009

      Brittany Stathes Caring Heart award 2009

      featured on CBS Atlanta's Good Deeds segment

      National Educators Association Youth Leader for Literacy 2008

      Daughters of The American Revolution National Community Service award 2008

      11 Alive Class Act
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