In fact, one of the only insights into Stapleton’s childhood basketball playing days was a photo that legendary basketball coach Rick Pitino shared not too long ago. Seemingly out of the blue, the now St. John’s head coach (who formerly coached at UK and Louisville) shared this vintage picture from a KY Wildcat basketball camp with the caption:
“Chris Stapleton at Kentucky Wildcats basketball camp. Didn’t like the way he played defense.
Told him to go into music instead. Don’t thank me Chris, it’s okay.”
And in a recent interview with Chris Stapleton on Audacy’s Rob + Holly, the “White Horse” singer shared that the photo caught him off guard just as it did the rest of the world.
The Kentucky native verified that it was, in fact, a photo of him in his younger, non-beard days, and then explained his reaction to seeing the photo posted online by the two-time national championship winning coach (if you still count the one at Louisville):
“I was like, ‘How does Rick Pitino even have a picture of me?’ Where did this picture even come from? I don’t know Rick Pitino, let’s be really clear. When I was a kid, my parents paid money for me to go to his basketball camp.
I’ve never met Rick Pitino. I certainly grew up in Kentucky and he was a big thing when he was the UK Basketball coach in Kentucky and then later (when) he coached for Louisville.”
With the way that Pitino posted and captioned the photo, you would have thought that Stapleton and the longtime college basketball coach had met a number of times.
But as the country star stated, they’ve never once met, which in Stapleton’s opinion made the situation all that more hilarious:
“I think it’s funny, I think it’s hilarious and I think it’s kind of great. I was trying to dream up ways to respond to it, particularly the part where he doesn’t like the way I played defense. I wanted to say, ‘Yeah, I was just busy scoring on your a**,’ or something like that.”
Stapleton never did respond to the message, at least publicly, but a comeback like that would have been iconic. With all the other country music feuds going on nowadays, imagine how great one would have been between one of country’s biggest names and a 71-year-old college basketball coach.