Reggie Warford Dies at Age 67; Kentucky's 1st Black CBB Player to Have 4-Year Career

Adam WellsMay 26, 2022

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 05:  A general view of the Kentucky Wildcats logo during the second half of the 2019 State Farm Champions Classic  college basketball game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Kentucky Wildcats on November 5, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kentucky basketball legend Reggie Warford died on Thursday at the age of 67. 

Per Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Warford had been diagnosed with numerous health problems in recent years and was surrounded by his family when he died. 

John Calipari @UKCoachCalipari

Reggie Warford passed away this morning at home surrounded by his loving family. I know how much Reggie meant to Kentucky &amp; how he inspired others.<br><br>Reggie and I worked together at Pitt in the 80s and have remained friends.<br><br>I’m going to miss my brother, may God bless you Reggie.

According to Tipton, Warford was the first Black player in Wildcats history to have a four-year basketball career and graduate from the university. 

Per Mike Fields of KHSAA.org, Warford had a heart transplant in 2014, a kidney transplant in 2017 and developed a pulmonary condition that restricted his breathing and required him to use oxygen at night. 

Joe B. Hall was named Kentucky head coach in April 1972 after Adolph Rupp retired. Hall was instrumental in fully integrating the Wildcats basketball program, with Warford being the first player who committed to the team under the first-year head coach. 

Derrick White, a professor in UK’s African American and Africana Studies program, told The Athletic's Kyle Tucker after Hall's death in January that Warford's commitment was a huge milestone for Kentucky basketball. 

"Joe B. signing Reggie Warford was so important because it signaled to Black Kentuckians and folks all over the nation that they were not going to do business the same way they had done it," White said. 

According to Tipton, Warford, Jack Givens, James Lee, Merion Haskins and Larry Johnson were the first all-Black starting five in Wildcats history during the 1974-75 season. 

Warford was inducted into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2019. He helped the Wildcats win the National Invitational Tournament as a senior during the 1975-76 season. 

In four years at Kentucky, Warford averaged 4.1 points per game over 50 appearances.