Sports Illustrated – Gene Keady was 44 when he was hired as Purdue’s basketball coach. He was nearly 70 by the time he retired. During the intervening years he lost a lot of hair. Desperate to keep his scalp covered, Keady resorted to sporting a combover. It was not a good look.
Keady says not all of the hair was even his. He had extensions. He also paid his personal hairdresser $300 two times a week to touch it up.
“I did it because I was on TV,” he told Doyel. “I did it because I was going bald. I thought I looked gorgeous with the combover. Of course, it was very ugly.”
Eventually, despite the combover, Keady got married, and his wife convinced him to shave the thing off. Underneath, she found a skin cancer. So getting rid of the ridiculous haircut may have just saved his life. He’s now a bald assistant at St. John’s.
“This is the story of how Coach Gene Keady’s glorious rug left him, penniless and cancer-ridden, on the doorstep of a Lafayette, IN salon until one woman intervened.”
I don’t remember my grandfather very well, but back when I was a kid I always thought that Gene Keady would have filled the role quite nicely. He was a huge old man who was usually yelling and was presumably an Irish functioning alcoholic, given his dark red hue. He had some great years at Purdue, but my early, obsessive young college basketball days overlapped with his twilight years as a coach. His teams were solid, but he always reminded me of the grandpa who couldn’t quite get through to his grandkids so he would yell and scream and pull at his fake hair and, after the game, retire to his La-Z-Boy with a bottle of scotch. Gene was every old man at the neighborhood pub on a weeknight. I bet he even has some weird yellow toenail to scare the children with. THAT HAIR was just the icing on the cake.
Keady is the best. It is absolutely bonkers that some old man was dropping $600 a week at an Afro-chic salon in Lafayette, IN to get hair extensions before extensions were even a thing. Keep in mind, he pulled this move for thirty years. Shit, he probably put two generations of his hairdresser’s family through a few semesters at IUPUI. He’s a goddamn visionary and I must admit, the dedication to his craft is impressive. Championships are won with hard work and consistent effort, you better believe Gene took that heart. A man’s gotta have a code, and there’s no better code than “Look Good, Play Good.”
Deion said it, Gene lived it. Beauty ain’t built in a day, it’s a lifestyle, man.
P.S. – I am truly glad to hear that Coach Keady is in great health, doing well, and still coaching at St. John’s. The Red Storm are always a sleeper to watch, especially this year in a weaker Big East. Pretty crazy to think that such a well-respected, successful head coach is still in the game as an assistant. Hopefully The Johnnies are putting his wealth of experience to proper use. I do need the Rug back, though. There are countless old, bald fucks running around Queens. There’s only one Coach Keady.