Billy Gillispie is currently the head basketball coach at Ranger College, a junior college in Ranger, TX. His past resume includes time as an assistant coach at the University of Tulsa under Bill Self, eventually leading to head coaching jobs at power-five schools including Texas A&M, Kentucky and Texas Tech
Gillispie found out in November on 2017 he had stage four kidney failure
Ericka Downey, the wife of Northeastern State University men’s basketball head coach Mark Downey, saw an article about Gillispie’s need for a kidney while scrolling through twitter in December of 2017. She immediately felt a call from God to help Gillispie, either by donating a kidney or finding someone who could give him a kidney. Her husband Mark had met Gillispie in 1998; Gillispie was at Tulsa, recruiting one of Mark’s players at Independence CC, David Shelton. That was long before Mark and Ericka had met and gotten married.
Ericka Downey reached out to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to try and become Gillispie’s donor. At first she called and was told he hadn’t been admitted onto the donor list, but she filled out paperwork and continued to call and check. Eventually she was told he’d been put on the list. At that point, the Mayo Clinic sent her a blood kit. She submitted her labs and on February 9th, found out she was a match.
One of Gillispie’s former assistants, Josh Mills, reached out to Ericka and told her that Billy would like to connect. Ericka and Billy have exchanged text messages since March, but never spoken over the phone.
On Sunday, Ericka will fly up to the Mayo Clinic for three days of extensive testing to make sure she’s healthy enough to donate her kidney. If she is, they’ll plan a surgery. From the Mayo Clinic, Ericka will fly straight to San Antonio for the Final Four, where she plans to meet Billy for the first time.
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