In the media circle, we can be so busy chasing stories, separating fact from fiction, that our surroundings are nothing more than a continuous and never-ending cycle. 

Social media has made it even more difficult to communicate and even build relationships within our media circles. The health pandemic separated us even more and zoom press conferences just aren’t the same as face-to-face contact.

Although I’m appreciative of technology that allowed us to do our job during the past two-plus years, there’s just something about conducting an interview in real-time and in person. You develop a feel for the story, the subject and proceed with words to create a visual picture for the reader.

There also something about developing and forming friendships with your peers and Mike Pratt never ever failed to speak to me when we crossed paths in the media room at Rupp Arena or on a road trip during the past two decades he served as a color analyst for the University of Kentucky Radio Network.

The first time I met Mike was at the Winchester Country Club back in the early 2000s. He was guest speaker for the local UK alumni chapter, and I remember he was very gracious and shared stories of his experiences as a player for the Wildcats and later as a broadcaster on the radio network.

From that point on, we forged a professional friendship, and he was always so kind to me and helpful. He would always ask how I was doing and shared his thoughts on the Wildcats. Like many of you, I was saddened to hear of Mike’s passing last week. I was on vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Recently, I purchased a book at a yard sale, entitled, “Kentucky Basketball’s Big Blue Machine” written by late Kentucky Sports Information Director Russell Rice in 1976. In a chapter, devoted to “Echoes from the 1960s” Pratt recalled playing for late Hall of Fame coach Adolph Rupp and the Wildcats.

“On a fast break early in my sophomore year, I laid the ball in the hoop and then twisted to avoid running into Jim LeMaster under the hoop. I failed, and tumbled head over heels into coach Rupp’s feet on the bench. Before I could quit rolling, coach was up on his feet, yelling, ‘Get up, Pratt … your man is already down the court.' We were up at least 20 at the time.

“Another time, we were playing Vandy and I had hit almost two (shots) in a row and with a third straight one, they called timeout. In the huddle, coach Rupp said, 'not bad shooting, son - although Chip (Rupp, his young son) probably could have done that too.' He turned slightly then looked back at me and smiled that grin and winked.”

Pratt then shared another story he always remembered.

“I’ll ever forget the day in Columbus (Ohio) after we were beaten by Jacksonville. I was on the bench alone, sweaty and crying. I looked up and there was coach sitting next to me shaking his head, but no words could come out — just the two of us without words.”

Pratt left many of us speechless when he left us last week and sometimes there are no words. That’s when memories take hold and remain forever 

His smile and friendship will never be forgotten.

Keith Taylor is the sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at Keith.taylor@kentuckytodaycom and via Twitter at keithtaylor21