MIKE REDD: 1944-2007; Seneca's 1963 Mr. Basketball one of state's best ever

By C. Ray Hall

Mike Redd

Terrie Gale found this photo and sent it to me.


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The Courier-Journal

Mike Redd, one of the most talented high school basketball players in Kentucky history, died Saturday in Atlanta.

Redd died at Emory University Hospital of complications from bone cancer, said his daughter Mikela. He was 63.

Late in life, Redd had won fans as a chef in California. As a teenager, he won basketball fans in Kentucky when he led Seneca High School to the state championship in 1963. He averaged 26.5 points in the state tournament - scoring 41 against Maysville - to eclipse his teammate Wes Unseld, who became an NBA Hall of Famer.

After the season, Redd was named Mr.Basketball, over Clem Haskins of Taylor County.

Redd's high school coach, Bob Mulcahy, said yesterday: "People ask me who are the best three players that I ever had a part in coaching. No.1 is Mike Redd, No.2 is Westley Unseld and No.3 is Jo Jo White, when I was at Kansas (as an assistant coach).

"(Redd) was a 6-2 Oscar Robertson."

Redd's death came on a day of immense grief for his family. Less than eight hours earlier, Redd's 85-year-old mother, Susie Cairo Logan, died in San Jose, Calif., where she had lived for 38 years. She was diagnosed with stomach cancer the day before Thanksgiving and had surgery two days later.

Mike Redd, who had been hospitalized about a month, didn't know of her death. And neither mother nor son knew the gravity of the other's illness.

"We didn't have the heart to tell him - or her - about each other," Mikela Redd said.

Redd played one season at Kentucky Wesleyan but never found his way to the pros, spending what might have been his prime years in the U.S. Marines. Those who saw him play found him unforgettable.

Mulcahy noted that Mississippi State coach Babe McCarthy called Redd the best college freshman he'd ever seen.

George Unseld, the Louisville councilman who played at Seneca in the same era, recalled: "Mike was doing things then that Michael Jordan was doing in his career. The things he was doing then were considered outlandish."

Mulcahy recalled an example from a 1963 high school regional tournament game.

"Westley threw the ball out to Mike, and Mike was going down the center and got to about the head of the circle, and a boy from Southern High School came out to challenge him."

Just past the free-throw line, Mulcahy said, "he flipped the ball over the defensive player's head, and then he went up and got it in the air. The ball never came back down."

It did come down - through the basket - courtesy of Redd's dunk.

It didn't count because the referee called traveling. Mulcahy said he started to approach the referee after the game.

"He said, 'I know. I know.' He said, 'I have never seen a high school player make a play like that. It was a legal air dribble.'"

Redd, a Scholastic magazine All-American, originally signed to play at Western Kentucky University in 1963. But in the summer he chose Kentucky Wesleyan because he could play varsity ball as a freshman. He averaged 20.7 points and 6.8 rebounds a game in his only season, then dropped out of school.

"He didn't like going to school," Mulcahy said.

He then played a season at Sullivan Business College in Louisville.

In 1966, he joined the Marines, where he became a sergeant and tank commander, spending 13 months in Vietnam. But his main job, even in the Marines, was playing basketball. He toured the world with an all-service team that included Mike Silliman, the former St.Xavier star.

While Redd was still in the Marines, the Boston Celtics drafted him No.52 overall in 1967. But it was 1970 before he tried out with the team after leaving the Marines.

"It wasn't a fair test," late Celtics coach Red Auerbach told The Courier-Journal in 1971. "At that point, he had all those 'service muscles.' It's just impossible for anyone to come out of the service and do his best inside a year. Cliff Hagan couldn't do it."

Redd spent about a decade in Europe, where he played in France and started a basketball school in Austria. He also learned to speak several languages.

"Mike was thought to be not a smart kid," Mulcahy said. "In high school he had a tutor, and his tutor was Diane Sawyer. ... Later we discovered Mike could speak five different languages and was running his own business."

Redd was in the restaurant business in San Jose and Nashville about a dozen years, his daughter said. He had moved to Atlanta to start a catering and consulting company. He was inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1999.

His daughter indicated that he was a model for single parents after his wife, Lutie, died in a car accident in 1985.

"My father had always kind of raised us to be overachievers and let us know that we could do anything we set our minds to," Mikela said. " ... He was very entrepreneurial and always instilled in us to be masters of our own destiny."

When Redd's daughters - Arja and Mikela - were younger, their dad was the master of their romantic destinies.

"You couldn't take my sister and I out on a date unless you beat him in a game of 'HORSE,'" Mikela said.

As a chef, his daughter said, he was noted for his Southern gourmet cooking and for his dishes that featured wild game, such as elk and deer.

This year he married Barbara Jackson, who survives him, as does another son, Andre.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete. Mikela Redd said the family plans a joint memorial service in San Jose, with burials in Louisville.

C. Ray Hall can be reached at (502) 582-4662.

Subject: High school basketball; Athletes; Secondary schools; Colleges & universities

Publication title: Courier - Journal

Pages: C.1

Publication year: 2007

Publication date: Dec 18, 2007

Year: 2007

Section: Sports

Publisher: Gannett Co., Inc.

Place of publication: Louisville, Ky.

Country of publication: United States

Publication subject: General Interest Periodicals--United States

Source type: Newspapers

Language of publication: English

Document type: News

ProQuest document ID: 241437855

Document URL: http://search.proquest.com/docview/241437855?accountid=3730

Copyright: Copyright 2007 - Courier-Journal Louisville, Ky. - All Rights Reverved

Last updated: 2012-12-27

Database: Courier-Journal (Louisville)

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