Drake takes center stage at Big Blue Madness


Drake announces to the fans that he plans to have a free concert for UK students during Big Blue Madness on Friday, October 13, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Every Big Blue Madness usually has a lasting memory or moment that the fans remember, and this year, it was Drake’s appearance that fans will remember the most.

However, UK men’s basketball head coach John Calipari said he hopes the crowd in Rupp Arena doesn’t just remember Drake showing up to Big Blue Madness, he hopes that people will think about Drake’s successes and try to apply it to their own lives. 

“I want my players, and anyone out there to know if you want to emulate excellence, yet maintain humility an loyalty, emulate Drake,” Calipari said in his speech.

It was Drake’s first appearance at Madness, since 2009, when he famously air-balled a shot in the layup line. While Drake didn’t try to avenge his missed shot, he was an honorary coach for the “Blue” team during the scrimmage at the end of Madness.

However, Drake’s main role for the evening was to serve as a motivational figure. The singer has accomplished a lot since his last appearance in 2009, and has now become one of the world’s most popular figures.

“My hope is my players don’t just listen to his songs, but they adopt his drive for excellence, his mentality towards his craft, and his overall goodness,” Calipari said.

Not long after Calipari’s speech, Drake walked out on the court wearing a “Kentucky Dad” sweatshirt. Drake gave current and former Kentucky players many high fives and hugs as they all huddled for a “family picture.”

Drake eventually spoke to the crowd, and said his previous visit to Madness was one of the best experiences of his life. He also shared what he tells people when they ask why he chooses to go to Kentucky’s Madness instead of other schools.

“I tell them I’m a Wildcat through and through,” Drake said to the crowd.

Drake also said he hopes that Calipari will let him come into Rupp Arena and do a free show for students. That sparked possibly the loudest roar of the evening from the crowd.

After all the motivational speeches, Drake got the chance to catch up with Calipari on the bench, as the two have been friends for years. Drake also coached the Blue to a 32-29 victory in the scrimmage.

Tonight’s Madness was one for the memory books, and if there’s one thing Calipari hopes people take away, it’s to emulate Drake. If his players can do so, they’ll have a chance of winning their ninth national title.