Today is the 80th Birthday of Kelly Coleman —- one who basketball fans and aficionados alike know as “King” Kelly. He graduated high school in 1956 and was named our first ever Mr. Basketball.
To you, he may be the KHSAA all-time leading scorer. He may be that legend and lore you’ve heard all of your life as a basketball player. To you, he may be the Greatest High School Basketball Player that Ever Lived. He absolutely is all of those things. You know what else he is?
My best friend. He’s a shot at getting to enjoy a grandfather figure as I get older (because Lord knows mine were gone way too soon.) He’s someone I can ask about “back then”, someone I can talk about life, today’s struggles, and a simpler time.
Someone I get to laugh with, smile with, and as of lately — cry with, too.
I’ve only known Kelly for about 4 years but it feels like a lifetime.
I could never replicate the joy he brings to my days as I grow older and begin to appreciate his wisdom, his troubles, his jokes, and even his choice in movies.
You see, King Kelly is a great basketball legend, and that will carry on for lifetimes in the record books and stories… but he is so much more than that, too, and that will carry on in my heart for the rest of my days.
I hope it has been the absolute best birthday anyone could experience. And I hope I get to see many, many more.
Happy 80th Birthday, old man.