Awarded on Wednesday in Lexington
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 21, 2015) — University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari received Alltech’s prestigious 2015 Humanitarian Award at Rupp Arena on Wednesday. Calipari addressed more than 3,000 attendees from 68 nations on the closing day of the Alltech REBELation, an international conference exploring innovation, inspiration and world-changing ideas.
Known as a “dream maker,” Calipari has guided six college basketball teams to the Final Four, led one to a national championship and helped dozens of players make it to the NBA during his 23-year college coaching career.
“The state’s mission for me is to win titles; my mission is greater,” he said. “My mission is to be a vehicle to help others reach their dreams, to be the stone that creates the ripple in their lives that goes on and on.”
The Humanitarian Award is given annually to a person of strong character who uses his accomplishments to positively influence and inspire others. Calipari has leveraged his power of influence through widespread charitable endeavors. In a 2010 telethon, “Hoops for Haiti,” The Calipari Foundation raised more than $1 million for victims of the devastating earthquake. Its 2012 telethon raised $1 million for victims of hurricane Sandy.
In presenting the award, Alltech founder and president Pearse Lyons lauded Calipari’s humanitarian trips to impoverished regions of the world, such as Haiti. Calipari noted that he and Lyons always ask one another, “What can we do to help these people?”
Accomplishing that on a grand scale, of course, takes more than an individual. “I want 1,000 people to feel of themselves that, ‘Without me, this would never have happened,’” he said.
Taking exception to the maxim “leaders are not made; they are born,” Calipari said, “I have to teach leadership day to day. Leadership is about serving everyone under you, asking yourself, ‘How do I give you the tools you need to succeed and proceed? How to be your brother’s keeper, how to push limits and take chances?’ They have to know that if things don’t work, leadership will take the responsibility.”
Effective leaders, he said, motivate by telling their team, “As we succeed, we all benefit. We all reach our dreams. Your dream is our dream. We’ll push you to the limit, but don’t be afraid to fail.” His underlying message: “We win or we learn. It’s not about winning and losing. We use the experience to make ourselves better.”
“How do I get my players to think that way, to do more?” Observing that “money has wings and fame is fleeting,” Calipari said he tells them, “When you’re in that seat, ask yourself what are you doing to leverage it for others. What is your ‘why?…It’s amazing what gets done when no one cares who gets the credit.”