Over the next few weeks, Guy Ramsey and I will be profiling Kentucky men's basketball's five newcomers, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Kyle Wiltjer, Marquis Teague and Ryan Harrow, in a CoachCal.com exclusive series. Because it's an exclusive to CoachCal.com, I won't be able to post the story on here, but we will put an excerpt below of each feature. Head over to CoachCal.com to read the full story.
For as long as Michael Gilchrist has played basketball, he's looked to the stands to play for the people he loves the most.
He's played for his mother, Cindy Richardson. He's balled for his cousin DeAnte, now 11 years old. He's laid it on the line for the two father figures in his life, his stepfather, Vincent Richardson, and his uncle Darrin Kidd. And even though his late father, Michael Gilchrist Sr., never saw his son grow up and pick up a basketball, every once in a while Michael looks to the stands and sees him too.
Michael plays for everyone but himself. That's why it came as no surprise to the people that know him the most when he legally changed his name last week to "Michael Kidd-Gilchrist" in honor of his uncle, his best friend and his confidant, Darrin, who died tragically of a heart attack on the same day Michael signed his national letter of intent with the University of Kentucky.
"He put the ball in my hands," Michael said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with CoachCal.com. "He introduced me to the game. I didn't really have a dad. That was him."
Michael lost his birth father a month before turning 3. He doesn't remember a lot about the man he was named after, but he's been told he mirrors him in almost every single way. From his contagious smile, to the No. 31 adorning his jersey throughout his youth, to his unselfish play on the court, Michael is the spitting image of the Camden, N.J., basketball legend.
"Michael's style of play is so much like his father's," Cindy said. "His father really had a true love for the game."