Friend Of Basketball Coaching Legend Thanks Alaska Rescuers After Stroke

Photo by AC Dixon/Wikimedia

As a longtime college basketball fan spanning back to the early 1980s, the past few weeks have been tough, with the deaths of famed former coaches Jud Heathcote and Rollie Massimino. Both men had long, happy lives, and my friends and I wondered aloud if the urban legend that celebrities in pass away in threes would come to fruition.

We kind of laughed about it at the time, but then days later, to our horror, another iconic college basketball coaching fell ill. Denny Crum, who coached the University of Louisville to two national championships during a Basketball Hall of Fame career, suffered a mild stroke on a fishing trip in Alaska.

Fortunately, Crum is OK after the incident, which happened on the Kenai River, and another member of his traveling party wrote a heartfelt letter to the first responders who provided aid to Crum.

From Louisville TV station WDRB via the Alaska Dispatch News:

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, while on a fishing trip on the Kenai River in a remote area of Alaska, Crum’s guide noticed he was behaving erratically and determined that he needed medical assistance. When it arrived, friends he was with carried him to a helicopter for the flight to an Anchorage hospital.

Doctors said Crum suffered a minor stroke and gave him clot-busting medication to try to alleviate any further threat. A subsequent MRI showed no noticeable effects, and after a short period in which Crum struggled to communicate, he began to communicate clearly to his wife and others.

He has since returned to Louisville and is doing well, according to his wife.

On Monday, Sept. 11, the Alaska Dispatch News posted a letter sent by Gary Vitale, MD, a resident of Louisville. In the letter, Vitale, who identifies himself as a professor of U of L’s medical school, thanks the rescuers, including the park guide, as well as EMS and medical staff. …

Vitale wrote:

“As a surgeon myself, I can’t tell you the number of times we say to ourselves in a backroom how much more we could have done, if only we had received the patient sooner. In this case, due to the alertness and preparedness of the fishing guides, the well-practiced skills of a great EMS team and helicopter ambulance service, along with excellent medical professionals, all went well. Our special friend and the hero of so many in Louisville doesn’t have to spend the rest of his life in a disabled situation. For a man who has given so much of his life to others in basketball, support of innumerable charities and fundraising for the university, this is truly an outstanding and blessed outcome.”

 Crum tweeted out support from well-wishers following the health scare:


And this man is a badass!