Kentucky baseball player Ben Jordan, who walked on to the basketball team last season when it had a need, has died at age 22, the school said.
No cause of death was given.
We love you, Ben. Your memory will live forever in our hearts. pic.twitter.com/j7aYZ3uJYc
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 12, 2021
“Our hearts are broken today,” Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said in a statement. “We learned early this morning that we have lost Ben Jordan. It is difficult for me to express and to put into words what a tragedy it is to lose a young person too early. Ben impacted our team last season in so many ways with his kind heart, his big smile and his wonderful personality. He cared so deeply about this place and it meant so much to him to be a part of this team.”
The 6-foot-9 athlete was a baseball and basketball star in Olive Hill, Kentucky, who redshirted his first year in college to recover from Tommy John surgery. A right-handed pitcher, he appeared in 10 games in 2019.
The 2019-20 basketball team was facing a shortage of scholarship players, so Jordan stepped in. He practiced with the team throughout the season, playing in three games. He did not play basketball this season so he could concentrate on baseball.
“Ben loved and cherished being a Wildcat,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “He had a servant’s heart and answered the call whenever asked, including putting his promising baseball career on hold to help the basketball team when it needed him. I remember meeting Ben on his official visit to our campus and being so impressed with his passion for this state and the University of Kentucky.”
The Wildcats played Alabama on Tuesday night and honored Jordan. Players wore T-shirts with his No. 33 in warm-ups and then linked arms before warm-ups while Jordan’s photo was shown on the Rupp Arena video boards.
“It was a rough day today,” Calipari said after the game, according to the Courier-Journal. “It was an emotional day today. We’ve got four or five that will go to the viewing tomorrow, that were friends and knew they could count on Ben.”