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A Big Assist

by Robb Reel

Too often, sports writing is about the negative.

From Alex Rodriguez and PEDs to the far more grave Aaron Hernandez murder allegations, we spend a lot of time reading, writing, watching and listening to the bad.

Though I am not always successful, I like to aim higher and find the good stuff.

Meet Robert Kirby.

Kirby is a solid, experienced basketball coach.  The 53-year-old's resume is quite long with a lot of programs and a lot of miles.  His will likely never be a household name, at least not for the yeoman work he has done on the court.  Maybe it should be for what he's done off of it.

One of 13 children, Kirby was forced to watch helplessly as his mother died of kidney failure and lupus; she would not allow any of her kids to even test for a donation match.  When Kirby's older sister, Virginia Kirk, began suffering severe renal difficulties, many of the siblings underwent tests.  Robert Kirby was a match.

Tuesday, at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Kirby gave a kidney to Kirk.  The Texas-Pan American ['83] alumnus says he is just a little sore and that his sister is doing well, that the color returned to her face almost immediately.  Kirby hopes to be back on the sidelines for the Tigers soon.  Both he and his sister are already home, resting and recovering.

The University of Memphis will probably be in the preseason Top 25 and deservedly so.  The program has been among the most successful for the past several decades and has been close to a title a few times with help from the likes of Keith Lee, Anfernee Hardaway and Derrick Rose.  It is also a program that has been rocked by scandal.

Today, through the selflessness of Robert Kirby, we get to see true character walking in Memphis.