Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: His moving story carries him into Final Four

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There’s a lot more to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist than what can be see on the surface: the future NBA lottery pick and one of the stars of the Final Four-bound Kentucky Wildcats.

As Michael Gilchrist at St. Patrick HS (NJ), he was a Top 5 player in the country. He had already lost his father at a young age and, as a story from the AP recounts, hours before signing his letter of intent to Kentucky, Gilchrist’s other father figure, uncle Darrin Kidd died suddenly of a heart attack.

Gilchrist legally changed his name to Kidd-Gilchrist in honor of his late uncle, which is the name now associated with the blossoming star at Kentucky.

“(He was) my best friend,” Kidd-Gilchrist told the AP, which cites that the freshman brings a photo of his uncle with him on every road. “He’s always with me.”

He has averaged 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Wildcats this season and reports had circulated that he was headed to the NBA draft, but Kentucky coach John Calipari maintains that decision will come at the end of the season.

“Obviously, if he wants to stay, I’m going to be very happy,” Calipari told the AP. “He says, ‘I want to get my degree from Kentucky,’ and I agree. I want him to also. Basketball-wise, he’s got to wait until the year is out and figure out where everything is. He is a young freshman. He’s very young.”

Kentucky tips off against Louisville in the national semifinal on Saturday at 6:09p.m. Kidd-Gilchrist hopes to carry the momentum from his 19-point performance against Baylor in the Elite Eight, on into the Final Four.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_