University of Kentucky Athlete Ben Jordan Dead at 22

University of Kentucky student athlete Ben Jordan has died at age 22. A member of both the Wildcats' basketball and baseball teams, he said last year he was "Living the dream."

By Lindsay Weinberg Jan 13, 2021 9:25 PMTags
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Ben Jordan, a player for the University of Kentucky's baseball and basketball teams, has died. He was just 22.

The school's athletics page announced his death on Twitter on Tuesday, Jan. 12, calling him "a beloved member" of both teams. "He will forever be in our hearts," the page wrote.

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said he learned in the early morning of Jan. 12 of Jordan's passing, though he gave no cause of death.

"Our hearts are broken today," Calipari said in a statement. "It is difficult for me to express and to put into words what a tragedy it is to lose a young person too early. Ben impacted our team last season in so many ways with his kind heart, his big smile and his wonderful personality. He cared so deeply about this place and it meant so much to him to be a part of this team."

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The baseball coach, Nick Mingione, said he was devastated by Jordan's death, adding there are "no words to express the shock and heartache... He will be missed beyond measure."

Athletic director Mitch Barnhart said he met the student on his first official visit to the campus and recalled how he was "impressed with his passion" for his state and the university. 

He said in a statement, "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."

At 6 feet, 9 inches, Jordan was a right-handed pitcher for the baseball team and stepped in to play as a forward on the basketball team in October 2019. ESPN reports that he redshirted his first year while recovering from surgery. In spring 2020, he even made the Dean's list. 

Kevin Goldy/The Daily Independent via AP

In February, Jordan said he was "Living the dream" when he posted a picture of himself shooting hoops on Instagram

During the Wildcats' game against Alabama on Tuesday, the team paid tribute to Jordan by wearing T-shirts with his No. 33 while warming up, according to ESPN. His photo was also on display at the event.

A native of Olive Hill, Ky., Jordan was named the Eastern Kentucky Conference Defensive Player of the Year during his senior year of high school. 

His university's website lists his most-prized possession as his Gibson Les Paul guitar and his favorite activity (aside from sports, of course) as fishing. "His father has been his life's greatest influence," the site wrote.

The athlete is survived by his parents Kevin and Stephanie Jordan, as well as his three younger sisters Abby, Kara and Jenna. Jordan also had a German Shepherd named Brutus.

On Tuesday, his sister Jenna shared on Instagram he was "the best big brother" and "the kindest soul."

She wrote, "In one of Ben's favorite songs, Kacey Musgraves says 'oh what a world, and then there is you' and that's really a perfect summary of how I viewed my brother. There was really nobody out there like him. I'll forever remember your big bright smile and contagious belly laugh... My love for you is everlasting. I'll take the best care of Brutus Almighty for you."

Abby honored him on Instagram as well, writing, "Instead of being beside me you're going to live inside of me. In some life we are standing side by side laughing that in some other life we are apart. You're my number one, number three."

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