Sharing your passions with your children is one of life’s joys. Seeing them embrace something, and perhaps build a career of their own in a field about which you are passionate?
That has to fill Kentucky’s Kenny Gant with pride.
The Lexington Herald-Leader has a great story on the Gants, Kentucky’s first family of athletic officiating. Kenny Gant has spent the better part of the last 36 years as a basketball official and a baseball umpire. Now, his three sons – Marshall (20), Robert (19) and Haydon (17) – have all followed in their dad’s footsteps.
While Marshall and Robert are in their first full season of KHSAA officiating, Haydon is a junior at Lexington’s Tates Creek and won’t be able to officiate in the KHSAA until he turns 18. Still, he is gaining experience in the recreational church league settings that Kenny, Marshall and Robert came through.
“Let’s face it, he’s getting paid $25 a game,” Kenny told the Herald-Leader. “What other 17-year-old can make that type of money? … Instead of him asking me for gas money, he can put that gas in the car.”
That’s a lot more than Kenny Gant initially made when he started at the age of 16. Still, he made $9 a game back then, far better than the minimum wage ($2.70 an hour) at the time.
“It was a no-brainer,” Gant told the Herald-Leader. He’s gone on to officiate two boys’ Sweet Sixteens in Kentucky, but his career hasn’t been limited to the high school level. Gant has reffed multiple NCAA regionals and numerous college games, including some in both the prestigious Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference.
On Wednesday comes a landmark moment, though, as Kenny Gant will take the floor with Marshall and Robert for the first time at the varsity level to officiate the girls game between Madison Southern (Berea, Ky.) and Sayre (Lexington, Ky.). It will be Marshall and Robert’s first game at the varsity level.
“I know they’re excited, but I’m probably gonna be the most excited person out there,” Kenny told the Herald-Leader. “ … Whether we never work another game, the three of us, nobody’s taking that away.”
While their dad may have hinted at retirement from officiating a time or two, the prospect of being on the court together has often been a topic of conversation.
“It’s something we’ve always talked about,” Robert said. “We go to dinner after all of our games and just talk basketball every night. This time we all can leave at the same time and talk about the same game.”
You can read the rest of Josh Moore’s story here.