A tribute to Stewart

By BRIAN RICKERD State Journal Sports Writer Published:

LEXINGTON - Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said his Commodores were "overwhelmed both mentally and physically" in falling 106-44 to the second-ranked Kentucky Wildcats Wednesday night at Rupp Arena.

But what Stallings and his players experienced was nothing compared to what the Kentucky fans, coaches and players went through in a Senior Night ceremony that was breathtaking, even by Kentucky's lofty standards.

It was emotional enough for another packed house at Rupp Arena to send off seniors Keith Bogans, Jules Camara and Marquis Estill as they played their last home game in a Kentucky uniform. All three were presented to the crowd pre-game with various members of their families. Highlights were shown of their UK careers on the large video screens at Rupp. Framed replicas of their jerseys were presented to the trio as well.

But what put the proceedings way over the top was the decision by UK coach Tubby Smith and the school administration to take this night to honor the memory of the late UK recruit John Stewart.

Stewart's tragic story has been pretty well documented. The 7-foot center signed with Smith and the Wildcats in 1998 out of Bedford, Ind., North Lawrence High School.

Before he ever put on a Kentucky uniform, Stewart left us. He collapsed and died on the bench during an Indiana state playoff game his senior year.

For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.

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