LEXINGTON, Ky. -- There are few people in the Commonwealth who can steal the attention away from the University of Kentucky basketball team.
Two of those people -- actress Ashley Judd and legendary hoops coach Joe B. Hall -- managed to do just that Wednesday during the Wildcats' one-sided victory over Eastern Michigan.
The "Kiss the Girls" actress and Kentucky superfan made her way to the center of the court to serenade a bashful but appreciative Hall who will celebrate his 85th birthday Nov. 30.
"I am not known, regrettably, as a singing Judd but would you (the fans) kindly join me in wishing our beloved Coach Hall, who's like a grand-dad to me, happy birthday?" asked Judd, the daughter of country music singer Naomi Judd and the half-sister of performer Wynonna Judd.
The UK grad (B.A., French) was then joined in belting out a playfully sweet rendition of "Happy Birthday" by the thousands of fans at Rupp Arena. The arena was named after Hall of Fame coach Adolph Rupp under whom Hall served as an assistant for several seasons and then replaced in 1972.
Hall remains a beloved figure in Lexington, where compiled a 297–100 record in 13 seasons as coach of the Kentucky men's basketball team
His legacy was forever entrenched in the hearts of Wildcat fans when he led the team to a 30-2 record and what was then the program's fifth NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship in 1977-78. He is one of only three people to win an NCAA championship as a player (1949, Kentucky) and coach.
In 2012, the University of Kentucky unveiled a statue of Hall outside of the Wildcat Coal Lodge to commemorate his accomplishments at UK and his contributions toward the lodge. He currently hosts a sports talk radio show with former Louisville Cardinals coach and on-court adversary Denny Crum.
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