Viral Photo Highlights Dedication of Kentucky Coal Worker


Michael McGuire was covered in coal dust from head to toe while sitting front row at Rupp Arena with his son. | Image by Mollie McGuire

At a recent Kentucky Wildcats basketball game, Michael McGuire was covered in coal dust from head to toe while sitting front row at Rupp Arena with his son.

McGuire, 29, works as a coal miner 10 hours a day, six days a week, but he was not going to miss spending time with his son at his first Kentucky Wildcats basketball game. The image ended up being seen by KU head coach John Calipari, who wanted to learn more about the man and his son.

“My family’s American dream started in a Clarksburg, WV, coal mine, so this picture hits home,” Calipari tweeted. “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!”

The coach’s post has been quoted in tweets over 2,000 times, retweeted over 15.5k times, and liked by over 170k as of Friday, three days after his press conference on October 25.

At a recent press conference, Calipari said he learned — after successfully making contact with McGuire’s wife, Mollie — that the game was the first for the couple’s son, and McGuire had made it his fatherly duty to attend no matter what.

Calipari stated it is important for people like McGuire, quiet and humble, to be appreciated for his dedication to his family, both at work and away.

“It’s just a great lesson, and I showed (the basketball team) the picture yesterday of Michael and his son, and I talked about hard, backbreaking work that’s honorable work,” he said.

Coach Calipari emphasized how important it was that McGuire “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.”

Others shared Calipari’s sentiment.

“As the son of a Clay County coal miner,” one Twitter user wrote, “I just want to say thank you for sharing this awesome pic. God bless each of them and keep them safe.”

Another agreed, saying it was “One of the best stories in college sports lately, in my opinion.”    

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