Kentucky Wildcats: Ben Jordan’s passing leaves huge hole in Kentucky hearts

The Kentucky men's basketball team embraced during a moment of silence as they honored former walk-on Ben Jordan
The Kentucky men's basketball team embraced during a moment of silence as they honored former walk-on Ben Jordan /

Ben Jordan who loved his Kentucky Wildcats passes away at just 22 years old.

Simply put Ben Jordan loved all things about the Kentucky Wildcats and his dream to play at UK was fulfilled in more ways than he could imagine. But on Monday that was cut short with the news of his passing that stunned players, coaches, and all of Big Blue Nation at a mere 22-years old.

Jordan came to Kentucky to play baseball for the Bat Cats but also jumped at the chance to step onto the floor of Rupp Arena for the basketball team last year when coach John Calipari didn’t have enough bodies to practice with.

He didn’t care if he ever checked into a game but merely wanted to do what he was passionate about and that was to be a Wildcat.

The news of his death was felt all around the state, athletic program and shook coaches and players.

Dontaie Allen who was on the team with Jordan last year commented about the effect.

"“I learned as soon as I woke up, and I think it’s been pretty emotional around the guys that were actually around Ben last year. The players, at first, didn’t know because they didn’t know him, but since then it’s been pretty emotional. Everybody was trying to get together and just uplift one another.”"

Jordan grew up in the small Northeastern Kentucky town of Olive Hill in Boyd County with just over 1,300 people and attended West Carter High School. A school of just over 600 students who all know each other well and paid tribute to Jordan on the school’s Facebook page in an amazing video tribute by student Kaleb Wilson.   

Warning – be sure to grab a tissue.

A very special student, Kaleb Wilson, made/sent this video for/to me. I cannot for one second express how appreciative I am. Ben touched everyone. #forevermyboys I do not own rights to this music.

Posted by Karla Brown Cooley on Tuesday, January 12, 2021

He played baseball and basketball for the Comets and ranks 35th all-time in career rebounds in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association with 1,159. He is the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocks while ranking eighth in points.

The No. 3 baseball prospect in Kentucky in the class of 2017, Jordan ranked No. 97 overall in the country and was the No. 33 right-handed pitcher.

But he came to Lexington just to be apart of the school and state he loved and walked-on for the baseball team redshirting his first year.

In 2019 he appeared in 10 games throwing eight innings, allowing eight hits, eight runs, and eight walks for a 7.27 ERA. He was on the active roster for this upcoming season.

Kentucky baseball coach Nick Mingione was equally devastated by the news.

"“There are no words to express the shock and heartache our team is feeling with the loss of Ben,” the coach said. “He was an absolute joy to coach and be around. … We are all hurting and will find a way carry Ben’s legacy forward and keep him in our heart always.”"

With a promising baseball career ahead of him he placed that dream on hold to assist the Wildcats on the hardwood. Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart knew what the university meant to Jordan and recalled meeting him the first time.

"“It is with profound grief that we learn of the loss of Ben Jordan. Ben loved and cherished being a Wildcat.  He had a servant’s heart and answered the call whenever asked, including putting his promising baseball career on hold to help the basketball team when it needed him.  I remember meeting Ben on his official visit to our campus and being so impressed with his passion for this state and the University of Kentucky. He will be missed immensely.  Our prayers and condolences are with Ben’s family and friends.”"

Last year it came out that Calipari was in dire need of players and the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Jordan promptly stepped up to the challenge.

Reminiscent of Rudy Rudiger at Notre Dame it was all about what he could lend to help the Wildcats as a big post player. He managed to check into an actual game just twice with each in the closing minute. His only stat line is a single shot attempt. Ironically it was against Eastern Kentucky,

But Jordan is credited with the development of Nick Richards into earning All-SEC honors and was recognized by Calipari as being the one person who could match size for size with Richards. He made note of it following Kentucky’s loss to Alabama that seemed to shake the team.

"“Ben was one of the nicest… He came in with one thing, “I need you to help Nick (Richards), I need you to be physical,”‘ “When I went to put him in games, he begged the coaches not to put him in. He’d say, “Coach, don’t put me in.” He was only here to help the team. He had a great smile and a great way about him. He was a little bit of a prankster. It’s just sad and it affected the guys. The guys that didn’t know him could see that the other five were emotional. It was an emotional morning, it was emotional for me hearing it. I didn’t know it until the morning.”"

In observance, the entire team wore Jordan’s No. 33 practice jersey on Tuesday before the Alabama game. It may have played a factor in their 85-65 loss.

He was also a standout in the classroom as well by making the SEC spring sports Academic Honor Roll in 2020.

It was announced in his obituary in the Lewis County Herald by his family that a graveside service will be at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, January 14, 2021, at Olive Hill Memorial Park with Bro. Terrell Webb and Bro. Steve Madden officiating.

Friends may visit after 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 13, 2021, and after 8:00 a.m. Thursday, January 14, 2021, at Globe Funeral Chapel, 17277 West Highway US 60 at Olive Hill.

Ben’s family and friends will serve as pallbearers, and due to COVID-19 regulations, the family asks that everyone wear a mask and practice social distancing.