You may have heard a couple months back that basketball coach Billy Gillispie, who made his name at Texas A&M and Kentucky a decade ago, is in dire need of a kidney, a consequence of living for a long time with high blood pressure.
Now, it appears he has found one, provided this all works out. Presently the kidney belongs to a woman named Ericka Downey, the wife of Mark Downey, coach at Division II Northeastern State in Oklahoma.
Now the coach at Ranger College, Gillispie was by the middle of the last decade one of the hottest names in basketball coaching. He was the Big 12 coach of the year in 2007 at Texas A&M, and was hired that spring to replace Tubby Smith at Kentucky, and that’s about when everything started to fall apart.
Gillispie lasted less than two years in Lexington, and was only at Texas Tech for about a year when allegations of player mistreatment hit the news and Gillispie resigned, citing health reasons. So he goes to Ranger and … well, his first year there had to be forfeited for using ineligible players.
Gillispie announced his retirement shortly thereafter, citing health concerns related to his blood pressure, but changed his mind a few months later.
“That’s the intention,” Gillispie said about coaching in 2017-18. “I had, unfortunately, I had some high blood pressure issues in December, so they thought it was a lot worse than it actually ended up being. I’ve got it under control now.
“And the other thing: I’d rather die on the sideline that not be coaching, but no, that’s not going to be happening anytime soon, either, I don’t think.”
That was in May. By December, Gillispie’s needs had become urgent.
“There’s a lot of people who have had productive lives after a kidney transplant, so it’s not like the Grim Reaper is coming,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “Now, I’ve got to take immediate action, but there’s a lot of people who are walking around out there with one kidney who are living great lives.”
As for Downey, she says she’s getting as much out of it as Gillispie is.