Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari shares photo of coal miner who rushed from work for his son's first game - and invites the family to Lexington for a game |  CNN

Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari shares photo of coal miner who rushed from work for his son’s first game – and invites the family to Lexington for a game | CNN


A Kentucky coal miner who rushed straight from work to take his family to a University of Kentucky Wildcats practice game is on the father of the year shortlist and has won praise from the legendary trainer John Calipari, who shared a photo of him and expressed his admiration for his hard work and dedication to his son.

The photo, which has now gone viral, shows Michael McGuire and his son seated in the stands during Saturday’s Blue-White Game scrimmage in Pikeville, eastern Kentucky.

McGuire is still wearing his work uniform and heavy boots and his face and arms are covered in black coal dust.

Kentucky fan Sue Kinneer took the photo and posted it to several Wildcats Facebook fan pages in hopes someone from the coaching staff would see it and send the little boy an autograph.

The plan worked better than she hoped, and Calipari shared the photo on social media.

“My family’s American dream started in a coal mine in Clarksburg, WV, so this image hits home. From what I’m told, after his shift he ran to be with his son and watching our team. I don’t know who it is, but I have tickets for him and his family to Rupp to be treated like VIPs!!”, Calipari tweeted. (The Rupp Arena is the home of the University of Kentucky basketball team.)

McGuire had not yet been identified at the time, but Kentucky fans quickly found him and put the coach in touch with the family.

McGuire told CNN affiliate WKYT that he was working underground while all of this was going on and had no idea what was going on.

“When I came out and got a serve on the way home, it went crazy…I couldn’t believe it was real,” he told WKYT.

McGuire told the station he only had about 45 minutes to get to the game when he left work on Saturday and didn’t want to miss his son Easton’s first basketball experience.

“It was either going straight there or missing half the game to go home and take a shower and everything,” he told the affiliate.

He said Easton had a great time and they were now looking forward to a home game at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

“He had a blast. He was dancing and every time they slam dunk he was going crazy,” McGuire told WKYT.

And McGuire, a lifelong Kentucky fan, got to speak with Calipari on Monday night.

“It was great, he was really down to earth,” McGuire told WKYT.

Calipari told reporters Tuesday that he spoke to McGuire’s wife, Mollie, first because her husband was still at work.

“And Mollie’s comment to me is, ‘My husband is humble. He works hard. It’s hard work, but he makes enough money that I don’t have to work. And he’s a great dad. He did it many times,” Calipari said.

The coach said he hopes McGuire will be a lesson for his players.

“I talked to my guys about it. It’s just a great lesson, and I showed them the picture yesterday of Michael and his son, and I talked about hard, backbreaking work that’s honorable work, but it takes time for its son, even though he knew he couldn’t shower. It didn’t matter what he looked like, he just wanted to be with his son,” Calipari said.

The McGuires haven’t decided which game they’ll go to, but Calipari said local hotels, restaurants and other businesses are scrambling to do something nice for them when they come to town.

“Isn’t it good for someone like that, who is a calm, humble guy to know that people appreciate you, and we appreciate what you stand for,” Calipari told reporters. “And I appreciate it because that’s how my family got its start in this country.”

Kentucky held the Blue-White Game in Pikeville to raise money for flood relief in Eastern Kentucky.

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