Michael McGuire was not going to miss his 3-year-old son’s first trip to see the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team live, even if it meant arriving at the stadium covered in soot from his coal mine job.
During the Wildcats’ annual Blue-White scrimmage on Oct. 22 at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville, a picture from the game shows McGuire with his face and clothing covered in dust and soot as he watches his son, Easton, beaming at the players.
The viral photo caught the attention of legendary Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who explained why it was so special to him.
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!! pic.twitter.com/a5BJXUnK2v
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) October 24, 2022
“My family’s American dream began in a coal mine in Clarksburg, WV, so this photo hits home,” he tweeted. According to what I’ve heard, after his shift, he dashed to be with his son and watch our team. I’m not sure who this is, but I have tickets for him and his family to be treated as VIPs at Rupp! ”
Fellow parents and Kentucky fans have shown their support for the photo.
One man commented on Calipari’s tweet, “Much respect for this man making time to be a dad!” I’m a union worker myself, so I understand the struggle of juggling family and work. Sometimes you have to make the difficult decision to provide for your family, but when you do have time, make it count. ”
McGuire works six days a week at a coal mine about 40 minutes from the stadium, and he was determined to get to the game even if it meant skipping a shower.
“I didn’t want to miss it,” he told Jacob Soboroff of TODAY. “I’ve had to miss a lot of things.”
McGuire grew up watching Kentucky basketball games with his father and was eager to pass on the tradition to his son.
“Easton has taken a huge interest in sports, so it was the perfect time to start buying tickets for Michael and Easton,” his wife, Mollie, explained on TODAY.
It didn’t take long for his son to become enamored with the thrills of Kentucky basketball.
“Easton was dancing and all!” Michael stated
“It’s been a fun family experience,” Mollie said.
While McGuire stood out in the crowd, it’s not uncommon to see coal miners covered in soot and dust at their children’s sporting events in eastern Kentucky, given the industry’s prominence in the region.
This year’s Blue-White game was especially significant for the region because it raised more than $162,000 for flood victims in eastern Kentucky this summer. Floyd County, where the McGuires live, was among the hardest hit.
“We had some friends who suffered a lot,” Mollie explained. “We looked at each other and said, ‘All right, let’s do what we can.'”
Calipari is now doing his part to help the McGuires by providing them with VIP tickets to a game at Kentucky’s famed Rupp Arena in Lexington. Mollie and Michael have said that they will bring Easton and their 1-year-old daughter Lynlee to the big game against Kansas on Jan. 28.