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So you think you’re a UK fan, but have you met Roger and Carol Laws? Welcome to their shrine

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

It might be viewed as a museum.

On second thought, perhaps it’s more of a shrine.

Hmm…what’s the difference?

Let’s see.

A museum, we learn, is a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.

A shrine is a place regarded as holy because of its associations with a divinity or a sacred person or relic, marked by a building or other construction.

Whatever you want to call it – Roger Laws has it – in his barn.

We’ll lean towards the shrine simply because basketball – especially University of Kentucky basketball – is, well like a religion in the Bluegrass.

Roger Laws proves that – and he doesn’t have to wait for March for his basketball “Madness.”

It’s really funny when you think about it since the soon-to-be 84-year-old Laws who lives in Northern Kentucky – near the Ohio River – never played sports as a kid.

“I contracted polio when I was 12,” he told the Northern Kentucky Tribune from his home/shrine/museum. “Even today,” he added, “My one leg is a bit shorter than the other.”

What Roger Laws – and wife Carol – aren’t short on is their love for University of Kentucky basketball.

Roger Laws

“My aunt and uncle took me to my very first Kentucky basketball game when I was 13,” Roger said, “And I was hooked.”

So much so, that in the mid-1950s Law started what has grown into perhaps the largest memorabilia collection of UK basketball – if not in the Commonwealth – but perhaps in the entire country.

“When we started collecting,” Laws, a Dixie Heights High School grad said, “we put everything in the second floor in our home.”

And when things got somewhat out of control, Laws was told by his wife: “We need to do something with this stuff, or get rid of it.”

Laws said they revamped their barn about 20 years ago – and today it houses just about anything you’d want to know or see about UK basketball.

“We took the windows out and replaced them with glass block,” Laws said. “We added steel beams for the upstairs second floor in the barn. And we added a staircase.”

What that barn holds are memories of those great past and present Kentucky players and coaches.

“We have a banner for anyone who has ever played for the Wildcats,” Laws said. “We have over 200.”

And as for autographs, Laws said he and a buddy drove to Oklahoma to gain an autograph of former UK coach Eddie Sutton.

“I knocked on his door,” Laws said, “And when Mrs. Sutton greeted me, I told her I was from Kentucky. She told us to meet her husband at a downtown ice cream shop.

“We did,” Laws said, “Got his autograph and drove back home.”

Laws said he drove to Florida to get an autograph of Abraham Lincoln Collinsworth – Cris’ dad – a member of the 1958 NCAA Championship team.

“Most people think I’m crazy,” Laws said, “But I truly love it. Even my grandkids think I’m nuts.”

But the only thing Roger and Carol Laws go nuts over are the Wildcats.

“It wasn’t always that way,” Carol laughed, “My father wasn’t even a basketball fan; now I love it.”

The Laws have been Wildcat season-ticket holders the past 15 years.

“It took us some time to get ‘em,” Roger said. “Finally, Carol won ‘em in a lottery. We had to pay for ‘em; the lottery just gave us the opportunity to purchase them.”

Carol remembers the dinners they hosted at their barn.

“We had four of them,” she said, “And former UK Coach Joe B. Hall was host and emcee. He’d introduce all players in attendance, and they would give a little talk. We enjoyed those dinners, and the former players who came to visit couldn’t believe what they saw.”

The items — usually organized by Carol – are displayed by whiskey decanters, championship and signed basketballs in cases – built by Roger – former Coach Adolph Rupp items, schedules, photos, calendars, old newspapers – and did we mention a basketball court on the barn’s second floor.

“What fun would it be to have all this stuff,” she said, “If you can’t see ‘em?”

March Madness is in full swing.

And though their beloved ‘Cats are out of the tournament, the Madness never stops for Roger and Carol Laws.

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