Denny Crum was remembered earlier in the day at Southeast Christian Church (Charlie Springer photo).
More than 200 former players lined the aisle as Denny Crum’s funeral concluded (Charlie Springer photo).

I sat in the KFC Yum Center Monday night trying to combine all the great things I remember from former Cardinal coach Denny Crum. I couldn’t, kept reaching for the Kleenex. Others did as well

Paul Rogers, “The Voice of the Cards” was the emcee. Billy Thompson, Junior Bridgeman, Darrell Griffith and Kenny Payne all former players had their own stories about Coach. His wife Susan Sweeney Crum let us know what Denny was like away from basketball. Fishing and hunting were at the top of his list.

Denny’s red blazer, a basketball and a rolled up program at the Celebration of Life (Mike DeZarn photo).

All navigated their speeches with calmness and grace. Just like Crum.

Griffith, a Louisville native, was emotionally touched by the moment. The 6-foot-4 All-American was the National “Player of the Year” as he helped lead the Cardinals to their first NCAA title in 1980.

I couldn’t see Griffith anywhere but Louisville. Assistant coaches Wade Houston and Jerry Jones followed Griffith’s every move to get him to UofL.

Griffith said the Cardinals of the late 1970’s and 80s helped bring this river city town together. “It didn’t matter if you were east end, west end or from the south end, the community came together,” said Griffith.

Crum always stressed the positive, never negative. He didn’t yell and he didn’t curse. That makes him special at a time when hypertension on the sideline is almost considered normal.

The event included video messages from former coaches Bobby Cremmins, Georgia Tech, Roy Williams North Carolina and Kansas, John Calipari,  UK, and Mike Krzyzewski, Duke. Former UCLA players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sent a video message and Bill Walton a three page letter.

All the people that spoke said the same of what kind of person Crum was. He made thousands of appearances for charities. He was West Coast cool in the Midwest.

There will never be another Denny Crum. His record is safe. His legacy Hall of Fame, and a community that loved him as much as he loved Louisville.

Starr Roberts, a teacher and the recipient of a Denny Crum scholarship, saluted the coach at the KFC Yum! Center (Mike DeZarn photo).
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By Ed Peak

Ed Peak has covered UofL sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.