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John Calipari Gifts Custom Kentucky Jersey to Mom of Slain Arkansas Teen

Kentucky fan and high school student Taylon Vail was killed in a drive-by shooting in West Memphis, Arkansas in April. 

Kentucky coach John Calipari made a kind gesture toward an Arkansas mom on Mother's Day, gifting a custom No. 35 Kentucky jersey to West Memphis, Ark. resident Tabatha Vail, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Vail's son, Taylon, was shot and killed by stray bullets during a drive-by shooting in April. The high school freshman "always wanted to play college basketball," per the Commerical Appeal, aiming to follow in the footsteps of fellow Arkansas native and former Kentucky guard Malik Monk. 

Calipari's gift on May 27 to Tabatha Vail included a letter and scholarship offer intended for Taylon. Calipari signed the front of the jersey, while the back read "Vail" with Taylon's No. 35. 

"It was so interesting, because when I shared it—I didn't share it through social media, I shared it with family and people close in Taylon's life—a lot of them said, 'Oh my goodness, I have respect for John Calipari now,'" Vail told the Commerical Appeal.

Tabatha Vail presented the jersey to Taylon's school, Academies of West Memphis High School in May. 

"I got up in front of his class and I spoke, and then I shared that jersey with them," Vail said. "I mean, they were all in awe. Their applause—you could hear the excitement. They were screaming and yelling, it was so amazing."

Calipari led Kentucky to the Sweet 16 in 2019, going 30–7, 15–3 SEC.