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John Calipari

Championship Basketball Coach
  • Brought three different teams to the NCAA Final Four
  • Head Coach at University of Kentucky and 2012 NCAA Champion
  • Mentored 19 NBA draft picks, including two No. 1 selections
  • Raised over $2 million for victims of the Haiti Earthquake and Hurricane Sandy
Topics & Types
Inspiration & MotivationAthletes & Commentators

“If you are a college basketball fan like I am, you’ll understand why I’ve long admired John Calipari’s leadership style. While no coach treasures a win more than John, this terrific book reveals his greater purpose–to lead his young players to better lives, and then challenge them to give back to others.”
—President William J. Clinton

Head Coach of the University of Kentucky and 2012 NCAA National Champion, John Calipari has added an 8th Championship banner to the rafters by leading his team to a victory over the University of Kansas Jayhawks. Following a Final Four appearance in 2011, he has become only the second coach in NCAA history to bring three different teams to the Final Four. Calipari has led the Wildcats to four Final Fours in the last five years, making him the winningest coach since then. The 2014 – 2015 Wildcats went undefeated in their regular season, becoming the 19th team in NCAA history to enter the tournament without a loss.

Taking the reins at a prestigious program such as Kentucky is a first for Calipari who is known for turning once anonymous teams into national powerhouses. Calipari took over a 20-win team competing in the NIT in 2009 and brought them to the #1 ranking within one year. With a record 5 players drafted in the first round of the 2010 NBA draft and a 30 win season, he was named the 2010 Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year, his third such honor.

Overall, he’s churned out 19 NBA draft picks, 15 first-rounders, two No. 1 overall selections, five top-five picks and nine lottery picks at Kentucky. Since the 2008 draft, 22 of Coach Cal’s players have been taken in the NBA Draft, including 15 first-rounders.

Before coaching at Kentucky, Calipari was the Head Coach at the University of Memphis for nine seasons. Joining the program in 2000, Calipari quickly made his mark with an NIT championship in 2002. In 2008, Calipari had the team on the cusp of a national title after an overtime defeat in the 2008 NCAA Championship game to the University of Kansas.

Calipari’s college coaching career began at the University of Massachusetts in 1988. He took over a 10 win team and brought the team to the schools’ first ever Final Four appearance in 1996 with a 31-1 record, the best in the nation.

With his history of quickly turning around programs, Calipari is a master of communication and reengineering programs. He excels at recruiting and motivating; he has, year after year, turned great individual talents into great team players. His trademark style and charisma are carried into his presentations where he describes how he helps others succeed in life on and off the court and what it takes to build championship teams. Calipari shares his secrets of success in the bestseller, Bounce Back: Overcoming Setbacks to Succeed in Business and in Life, published in 2010. His second bestseller, Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out was released in 2014.

Calipari’s foundation, The Calipari Foundation, has raised millions of dollars to help the lives of those in need in the Commonwealth and across the country. The foundation has donated over $2 million to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Sandy.

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