Wildcat great is remembered for 'courage and fight'
By Jennifer Hewlett of the Lexington Herald-Leader
University of Kentucky basketball great Mike Casey died Thursday at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.
Mr. Casey, who was 60, had had congestive heart failure since 1988.
Recently he had been on a heart transplant list, but he was taken off the list because he was too ill for the procedure, said his daughter, Laura Lake of Franklin, Tenn.
Mr. Casey received a ventricular assist device, which helps the heart pump blood, in March, she said.
Mr. Casey, a resident of Shelbyville, died at 7:20 p.m. EDT after he was removed from life support, his daughter said.
The basketball forward and guard was UK’s 13th all-time scorer, with 1,535 points.
A Kentucky Mr. Basketball in 1966, who led his Shelby County High School team to the state championship, he went on to become UK’s leading scorer as a sophomore in the 1967-68 season. He averaged 20.1 points per game and led the team in field goal and free throw percentages.
His sophomore year successes led to him being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.
He was named All-SEC three times and All-NCAA Mideast Regional in 1968.
He averaged 19.1 points during his junior year.
Mr. Casey was forced to sit out the 1969-70 season after he suffered a broken leg in a car accident, but returned for the 1970-71 season.
“He went very peacefully, and we were all around him,” Lake said. “He fought as much as his body could fight.”
Former UK men’s basketball coach Joe B. Hall said, “We feel like it’s a great loss to our Wildcat family ... We remember his courage and his fight. He carried on just the way he did on the floor.”
This month, Mr. Casey is to be inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Louisville.
Mr. Casey was retired from Balfour, a company that makes class rings and graduation items.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Casey is survived by a sister, Masha Miller of Shelbyville.
Arrangements were pending at Shannon Funeral Home in Shelbyville.
Published in Lexington Herald-Leader from Apr. 9 to May 5, 2009