LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- To many Louisville fans, Denny Crum wasn't just a legendary coach. He was their friend and neighbor.
Hundreds of Cardinal faithful made their way inside the KFC Yum! Center Monday evening for a "Celebration of Life" in honor of the Hall of Famer.
Among the speakers for the evening, Darrell Griffith, aka "Dr. Dunkenstein," Junior Bridgeman, Kenny Payne, and Susan Sweeney Crum.
Larry Bishop loved Coach Crum. “If he coached under John Wooden, who’s the wizard of Westwood…why can’t Denny Crum be called a genius?” pic.twitter.com/kdD8MPEOvt— Conroy Delouche (@ConroyDelouche) May 15, 2023
Crum was respected because he won on the court, but he was truly loved by fans because of how he treated them off the court.
"The man, the person, second to none," Sam Means said.
"Basketball was what he did for the job," Larry Bishop said. "But as a human, can’t find a better guy."
Charlie and Sharon Bensinger watched Coach Crum on the sidelines for two decades.
"Whenever there was a timeout and he had a team in the huddle, I always felt very confident that they would come out and make a basket," Sharon Bensinger said.
"He always had the red blazer, and the black shirt. And, of course, the signature rolled up program," Gregory Posley said. "It’s just my way of honoring Coach Crum."
Crum wasn't just remembered for his calm, collected demeanor on the court. He was celebrated for embracing the city of Louisville.
"Every team that he had, he had at least three four kids from the city of Louisville," Bishop said. "And that’s what I liked, because he gave our kids a chance."
He is forever linked to the city he made home for more than 50 years.
"It actually affected me when I heard the news," Means said. "It kind of saddened my heart."
"Always looked up to him," Charlie Bensinger said. "Now I just look higher."
Crum took the reins of the Cardinals' men's basketball program in 1971. He led the Cards to two NCAA basketball championships and built the Cardinals into one of the 1980s’ dominant programs during a Hall of Fame coaching career.
Crum retired in March 2001 after 30 seasons at Louisville with 675 victories, which ranked 15th all-time then.
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