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How Pope Francis was gifted a Mark Pope Kentucky basketball jersey

May 4th, 2024

Before he traveled to the Vatican this week, a Catholic priest asked University of Kentucky president Eli Capilouto for a favor.

Jim Sichko of the Diocese of Lexington requested a jersey bearing the last name of newly hired Kentucky men’s basketball coach Mark Pope.

That No. 23 jersey was tucked under Sichko’s arm on Wednesday when he attended Pope Francis’ General Audience. Sichko described Pope Francis as delighted when he presented the other Pope’s jersey as a gift.

“Every time I meet with Pope Francis, I always bring him some type of gift,” Sichko told Yahoo Sports. “I thought it would be unique to bring him a UK Basketball jersey with Pope on the back.”

In the past, Sichko has brought Pope Francis anything from rare bottles of bourbon to custom basketball shoes made by a Lexington retailer. Sichko’s Friday morning social media post about this gift generated more buzz than the previous ones.

“Literally no other fanbase would be crazy enough to even attempt this,”

“We got the Pope on our side?!? Ohhhh this season finna be IT!!”

Mark Pope wore No. 41 in the mid-1990s when he played for Kentucky. The No. 23 on the jersey that Sichko presented Pope Francis represents Pope becoming the 23rd head coach in Kentucky men’s basketball history after he succeeded John Calipari last month.

Jan 13, 2022; Spokane, Washington, USA; Brigham Young Cougars head coach Mark Pope reacts after a play against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Pope left BYU last month to become the new Kentucky men’s basketball coach. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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