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Long-lost Final Four ring ends back up in Brassow's hand

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In the land of Kentucky basketball, finding a Final Four basketball ring of a former basketball player lies somewhere between the equivalent of discovering the Holy Grail and a 10-carat diamond.

Quite literally, the ring is priceless.

So imagine Jeff Brassow's surprise when he was contacted by a Fayette Urban County Government employee and told his long-lost Final Four ring had been found. To give back an item of such worth and merit in a time of such dishonesty and underwhelming values was a jolt of shock for Brassow.

"It's pretty cool that people are actually honest enough to find out if it was real and if it was mine and if I wanted it back," Brassow said.

Brassow, a four-year letterman at UK from 1990-94, was part of the 1993 Final Four team that lost to Michigan. The definition of a role player, Brassow averaged 4.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in the run to the 1993 Final Four in New Orleans. His game-winning tip in the 1993 Maui Invitational against Arizona is still one of the hallmark moments of a blue-collared period of UK basketball.

For his Final Four efforts, Brassow, like every other player on the '93 team, was awarded a ring. It was to be a family heirloom; a proud symbol of Brassow's basketball career that he could pass down to his children.

That was until Brassow lost it.

About 10 years ago, the way Brassow explains it, he let his roommate look at it and put it on. For some reason or another, of which Brassow cannot remember, the two got separated and his roommate accidentally walked off with the ring.

When they met up later, Brassow's roommate mysteriously claimed he had "lost it." Suffice to say, Brassow was devastated.

"I was not happy at all," Brassow said. "We looked and looked and looked for it and could not find it."

Following an exhaustive search, Brassow finally gave up hope of finding the ring. After all, finding an object no bigger than a golf ball was like finding a needle in a haystack.

"I had forgotten all about it," Brassow said. "I had just kind of written it off. There had been several times where I thought for my birthday or Christmas that I might replace it but I never got around to it."

Somehow that needle was found in a 75-acre haystack: a local Lexington landfill. That's right, Jeff Brassow's ring was found in a dump.

Randy Davis, a public service supervisor in the LFUCG, saw a fellow employee wearing the ring around and showing it off. Davis was a little skeptical about what the man was showing him until he got a closer look.

"It wasn't in that bad of shape," Davis said. "I don't know what kind of ring it was from 1993, what kind of ring they'd given him, but it wasn't a gold ring. He had maybe a stone in it. It had 'Brassow' on the side, 'Kentucky' on one side, the black onyx was on the top of it, the 'NCAA,' and on the inside of it was engraved with his name."

Sure enough, Jeff Brassow's ring had been found in a landfill.

"He said he found it at the dump, which was kind of curious to me," Davis said. "I said, 'Let me see that.' I took it off his finger and put it on my finger and I rolled up my truck window and drove off."

Davis was only kidding, of course. He backed up his truck, rolled down his window and started talking to his co-worker.

"I don't think he actually knew what he had," Davis said. "So I said, 'What you need to do is you need to let me have that.' "

After a little negotiation and some hesitation, Davis' fellow employee obliged. Only Davis had no intentions of keeping it for himself.

"When I realized it was Jeff Brassow's, I thought, well shoot, this ring needs to get back to the man instead of somebody keeping it and storing it somewhere," Davis said.

Davis, through a friend, got in contact with the UK athletics department and found Brassow's number. The two hooked up over the phone and Davis sent the ring to Brassow in Charleston, S.C.

Brassow received the ring in the mail a few days ago. Brassow was floored.

"I was like, 'Wow,' because I've got two young kids that I would love to show that to someday," Brassow said. "I was obviously very excited. I had kind of put it in the back of my mind."

The ring, after 10 years, returned to Brassow in relatively good shape.

"It doesn't matter to me where they found it," Brassow said. "I'm just glad they found it and returned it to me. It still fits and it still looks good."

Brassow said it needs to be cleaned, but it beats buying a replacement Final Four ring.

"The (Final Four) experience means more (than the ring)," Brassow said. "I had kind of just written off the ring because I didn't think I would ever get it back and I knew I could replace it at some point. The experience was something I'll never forget."

The former UK guard, who scored 807 career points and grabbed 334 rebounds during his time in Lexington, said he still remembers that '93 team pretty fondly.

"I remember that we were the best team that year and we should have won it," Brassow said. "We had our chances against Michigan and couldn't win the game. Of the four teams that were left, I thought that we had the best chance to win it."

Brassow, who will turn 40 on Dec. 20, has worked in Charleston for Metronic Inc. for the last eight years as a clinical specialist. A father of two, Brassow said he still keeps up with the Cats on occasion on TV and on the Internet.

He said he's hoping to attend the UK-South Carolina game in Columbia, S.C., wearing his Final Four ring proudly.

As for Davis, where did he find the heart to give such a prized possession back?

"I knew it was something that meant something to somebody," Davis said. "It didn't mean anything to me, but it might mean something to him so we had to find a way to get it to him."

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3 Comments

10 carats, big deal

10 Carats is a big deal to someone that earned it.

I'm glad for Jeff that he got his ring back and bravo to Mr. Davis for taking the time to get it returned.

Great story. Brassow was always one of my favorite players. Kudos to Mr. Davis for doing the right thing.

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Recent Comments

  • toni: Great story. Brassow was always one of my favorite players. Kudos to Mr. Davis for doing the right thing. read more
  • UKFAN71: 10 Carats is a big deal to someone that earned it. I'm glad for Jeff that he got his ring read more
  • maria : 10 carats, big deal read more