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Kentucky Coach John Calipari and the Biblical principle of servant leadership

Coach Cal is a charismatically generous man, who because of his faith, has given millions of dollars to change people’s lives, while teaching his players to give of themselves sacrificially. Read Transcript


doesn't begin to describe Basketball Hall of Fame

and Kentucky Coach John Calipari.

His Wildcats have been in four of the last six Final Fours,

with a championship in 2012.

Calipari credits his faith for helping him on a daily basis.

Well, I think everything starts around faith.

And there's no question.

what I hope is I'm being, I'm a vehicle that's being used.


is for sure, John Calipari is a winner.

And sometimes winning comes with a reputation.

Two of his former programs, UMass and Memphis,

were put on probation, though Coach Calipari was never

implicated in any wrongdoing by the NCAA.

Still Coach Cal has his naysayers.

What is it about you that elicits such strong feelings?

Let me say this, I know I'm not as good as some people try

to make me out to be, and I'm not as bad

as others make me out to be.

And I never get caught up in that.

Let me tell you, when you beat a team 10 straight times,

they're not liking you.

And they'll make every accusation they can.

The only reason this happens is because of duh, duh, duh.

I sleep good at night because I know who I am.

Critics may view the Kentucky program

as the antithesis of college basketball,

and those critics have been vocal.

But spend time with Coach Calipari,

and you get a different perspective,

actually it's a Biblical one.

Coach, Jesus said, whoever would become great

must become a servant.

And that servant leadership, how has that

changed the way that you coach?

First of all, it's a culture that they

want, that they know coming in, that you're going to share.

You're going to probably score less, play less minutes,

be more about your teammates than yourself than you've ever

been in your life.

You're going to learn what servant leadership is

really about.

Can I ask you because that's a hard enough principle

for someone who isn't an extreme talent.

How do you get these guys to buy in

to being servant leaders on the court and off the court?

Let me give you a great story.

Samaritan's Feet, where you go into an impoverished area

and you give away shoes and socks to children.

But first of all, you wash their feet.

You wash their feet.

So my players are on their knees,

washing the feet of these less fortunate.

And we ran out of socks and Karl Towns

gave his socks to that kid, took him off his feet.

We're teaching more than basketball.

There are people that are going to watch this and say,

that's not what I heard about this guy.

This is what we do here.

WILL DAWSON (VOICEOVER): And the John Calipari Foundation

gives millions of dollars to improve quality of life

and has a heart to enrich the lives of children.

Kentucky SportsRadio host and television personality Matt

Jones says that's the side of John Calipari

that most don't see.

Cal lives a value that I think gets ignored,

which is what you do unto the least of these,

in every situation.

Again, I've seen this for seven years.

He looks for the person that is not

the most important person in the room, and he seeks them out.

He looks for the person who is in a wheelchair.

Or he looks for the war veteran, or he looks for the wait staff.

Anybody can be buddies with the rich donors.

He wants to make an impact on everybody else,

and that's what I appreciate.


is the author of a new book called

"Success is the Only Option: the Art

of Coaching Extreme Talent."

Whether he's writing books or coaching basketball,

John Calipari has been and is successful in whatever he does.

But what makes the coach of history's most storied

basketball program focused on anything other than winning?

He says it's not about perfection,

but leaving a legacy.

COACH CALIPARI: I'm not the perfect human being.

I'm just not.

I know who I am.

I'm a sinner.

I know who I am.

That's how I've been blessed.

I mean, are you kidding me?

I'm coaching at Kentucky.


I didn't play for one of the stars in our profession.

I played at Clarion University.

How in the world am I here?

Well, there's got to be a reason I'm here.

And it's not just for fame and fortune and, no.

There's a reason that I sit in this seat.

I haven't figured it all out yet.

But probably at the end, I'll be able to look back

and say, here's why I was put in this place and that place.

Money has wings, and fame is fleeting.

So when you're in position to help, step up and do it.


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