Casey’s family told the newspaper that an illness set off his heart defibrillator 11 times, and that he became “gravely ill” last Friday night. He went to Shelbyville’s Jewish Hospital early Saturday morning, then was flown by helicopter to Lexington, where he was in ICU through Tuesday. He has since been moved out of intensive care.
The Sentinel News said he’s had heart disease since 1989, when a virus caused some coronary damage. He has been recommended for a heart transplant.
The family, according to the newspaper, has requested privacy. But I know a great many people think a lot of Mike and will want to remember him in their thoughts and prayers.
I saw Mike almost every day during my high school years, because his picture hung larger than life in the gym of Shelby County High School, where he won Mr. Basketball honors and led the Rockets to the 1966 state championship. He went on to a standout career at UK. Adolph Rupp always said that a broken leg Casey suffered before the 1969-70 season cost the Wildcats a national championship. He may well have been right.
The last time I talked to Casey, he was upset that I’d said UK had gone through one season, maybe his sophomore year, though I don’t remember which one it was now, without beating a ranked team. I told him I’d just gone by what the UK records and media guide showed, But he told me the ranked teams and insisted he was right, and when I looked back through the individual newspaper accounts, indeed, Mike’s memory was better than the record books.
Anyway, I don’t want to overplay this and I haven’t talked to the family, but my Shelby County bureau (read: parents) forwarded me the information, and I thought it was worth passing along.