When the UK Wildcats won in overtime during one of the most exciting games of the season, they credited the victory to their lucky charm and newest honorary team member: wish kid Josh.
16-year-old Josh is an avid basketball fan, but the multiple open heart surgeries and hospital stays he’s endured to fight his life-threatening heart condition have prevented him from living out his love of the game.
Josh’s heartfelt wish was to meet the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team, especially Coach John Calipari. A lifelong Big Blue Nation fan, Josh knew his wish would be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Little did Josh know the lengths Coach Calipari and the team would go to to make his wish truly unforgettable. The day of Josh’s wish, Coach Calipari shared, “With Josh, we’re hoping he walks away saying, ‘Wow, this was the greatest day and a half of my life.’”
The Wildcats treated Josh like a star with a full Big Blue Nation experience. He met the entire team and got to shoot hoops with them, even swishing his first basket amidst cheers from the team. Coach Calipari presented Josh with his own Wildcats jersey, number five, with his last name sewn on the back. Josh was on cloud nine for the rest of the day as he went on a UK wildcats shopping spree, joined the players for a team dinner and hung out in the locker room.
The day of the game, Josh and his family cheered from their courtside seats behind the players’ bench. The Wildcats won in overtime, 77-76, and Josh joined them in the locker room to celebrate their victory.
“How about that luck Josh brought us?” Coach Calipari said when he entered the locker room. The entire team burst into applause, not only for the victory, but also for the honorary team member who helped make it happen.
After the game, Josh sat at a press conference with Coach Calipari, who introduced him as his assistant coach and credited him for choosing the winning play. Josh smiled and gave the crowd a thumbs-up.
“He was just tickled to death,” said Josh’s mom Lisa of his wish experience. “You made his dream come true.”