March 6, 2009
Mississippi State men''s basketball coach Rick Stansbury and Lake Kelly shared a special bond.
Even though Stansbury appreciates Kelly for giving him an opportunity to be an assistant coach at Austin Peay, the two men became close off the court as well.
Kelly, the former Austin Peavy head coach and Kentucky assistant coach, died Thursday morning.
After checking into the Fleming County Hospital in Flemingsburg, Ky., to have a kidney stone removed, Kelly, 75, developed complications and died from what was suspected to be a heart attack.
Stansbury said Kelly had the appropriate first name "Lake" because he loved to fish.
After Mississippi State defeated Kentucky 66-57 in Lexington on Feb. 3, Kelly greeted Stansbury after his postgame press conference and reminded him of that fact.
"He came up to me and gave me the biggest hug," Stansbury said. "We were trying to plan when he was going to come to my house to go fishing. He was more than a coach to me. He was like a father. We did everything together from golfing to fishing."
Even though Stansbury began in coaching as a student assistant at Campbellsville College and a graduate assistant at Cumberland College, it was Kelly who gave him his first break as an assistant at Austin Peay.
Stansbury held that position from 1985-90 and was involved in a full scope of coaching responsibilities, including serving as recruiting coordinator. The two men helped Austin Peay to three-straight winning seasons.
Now Stansbury is the winningest basketball coach in Mississippi State history with 226 career victories in 11 seasons.
"If not for Lake, I would not be where I am today," Stansbury said. "He gave me my first chance at coaching and I''ll forever be grateful."
Stansbury said today head coaches and assistants usually don''t spend a great deal of time together, but that wasn''t the case with he and Kelly.
As a young single man, Stansbury recalls going to the Kelly''s home and being well received.
"Mrs. Kelly made sure I was well fed," Stansbury said.
Kelly served two stints as Austin Peay head coach as he was also there from 1971-90. Along with other head coaching stops at Oral Roberts and Clark County High School, Kelly was an assistant at Kentucky under Joe B. Hall.
In all, Kelly had 50 years of coaching experience.
"This is all you need to know about Lake," Stansbury said. "While he ''retired'' back in January, we all know he tried to retire a long time ago, but he couldn''t walk away. They got him in high school basketball, and he was able to continue doing what he really loved."
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