Originally published February 9, 2010 at 12:00a.m., updated February 9, 2010 at 08:16a.m.

Aldrich’s father gets to ‘live a dream’ — in Lawrence

Kansas center Cole Aldrich shoots jumpers over an ESPN camera man before tipping off against Texas on Monday, Feb. 8, 2010 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.

Kansas center Cole Aldrich shoots jumpers over an ESPN camera man before tipping off against Texas on Monday, Feb. 8, 2010 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.


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KU-Texas basketball

Reader poll

Who played the toughest for KU against Texas?

  • Marcus Morris 73% 3232 votes
  • Markieff Morris 5% 245 votes
  • Xavier Henry 9% 422 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 10% 459 votes
  • Other 0% 44 votes

4402 total votes.

Reader poll

What will KU's record be in its final four road games (Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Missouri)?

  • 4-0 31% 48 votes
  • 3-1 51% 78 votes
  • 2-2 13% 21 votes
  • 1-3 1% 2 votes
  • 0-4 0% 0 votes
  • Undecided 1% 2 votes

151 total votes.

It’s public knowledge that the mothers of Kansas University basketball players Sherron Collins, Tyshawn Taylor, C.J. and Xavier Henry, Marcus and Markieff Morris and Jeff Withey are living in Lawrence to watch their sons play basketball this season.

But it’s a little-known fact that a dad of one of the Jayhawks has been in town since the Oct. 16 Late Night in the Phog.

He’s Walt Aldrich, the proud papa of KU junior center Cole Aldrich.

Walt moved to Lawrence, in his words, to “live a dream” watching Cole play his third and — what figures to be his final — season of college ball. Walt’s wife, Kathleen, who is back home in Minnesota doing babysitting for Walt and Kathleen’s twin grandchildren (the daughter and son of Cole’s brother Grant), has been to the fieldhouse for one game.

Is Kathleen envious?

“I take the fifth on that just in case she reads the article,” Walt said. “She’s understanding. Oh, I think there’s a little jealousy. But it’s like I told her, ‘You probably talk to him more than I do.’”

Walt, who hasn’t been able to find construction work in Minnesota or in Lawrence during the country’s economic slowdown the past year or so, has been working temp jobs here while soaking in the full experience of KU hoops.

He had been to just a handful of KU home games in Cole’s first two seasons on Mt. Oread.

He does, however, miss playing with his 18-month-old grandkids.

“Tremendously,” Walt said. “They are at that age where everything is exciting. I’m missing out on all of the neat stuff, the two of them starting to talk.”

Yet at least until mid-April, when he plans to return to Bloomington, he’s getting to bond with his son, Cole, in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“There’s no place like home,” Walt said, “but Kansas is a good second home. I was hoping to see a lot less snow.”

Walt was brought to tears last March when he watched his son record a triple-double against Dayton in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. He hasn’t been quite as emotional during the 2009-10 regular season.

“Not yet,” he said with a laugh.

His favorite moment of Cole’s junior year?

“They’ve all been good,” Walt said. “Going to Manhattan (for overtime win over Kansas State) was quite the experience. I had quite a few (KSU fans) come up and congratulate me, too: ‘You’ve got a good kid. He’s made the Big 12 proud.’ I went to Nebraska and Iowa State, and so far I’ve had fans come up to me at every place.

“Him getting that academic all-star thing made me pretty damn proud, too,” Walt added of Cole’s becoming eligible for Academic All-America honors by making the all-district grades team. “He’s not just a good basketball player, but smart, too."

Walt says he pretty much keeps to himself, speaking to and/or hanging out with Cole about once a week.

The two enjoy dining at Jo Shmo’s on Mass Street in downtown Lawrence.

“I think he’s having a good time, just like the other years,” Walt said of Cole. “I’m sure my mom dying bugged him for a while.”

Indeed, Cole was devastated by his grandmother Ann’s bout with cancer that resulted in her passing last month.

Walt will not come out and say Cole is definitely headed to the NBA Draft this May, but it long has been believed that’s a certainty. Coach Bill Self has said all along nobody should expect four years out of KU’s big man.

Walt said he personally didn’t regret his son’s decision to stay at KU for his junior year, even though the Aldrich family has been hit hard by the economy.

“I told him, ‘It’s your choice,’’’ Walt said. “He’s having a lot of fun. He loves Kansas.”

But what about the millions of dollars the family would have earned had Cole turned pro?

“First of all, he would have the millions. His name is on the check, not mine,” Walt said with a laugh. “Things work out. They always have and always will.

“If he keeps it up ... I prefer not to say. If I say something, everybody will make it a big deal. More than likely he’ll be gone. There are months left, so you never know.”

What is known is that Walt and his son have been having the time of their lives the last several months.

“It’s great to have him at the games. It’s always great to have the support of loved ones,” Cole said.

The fatherly support will continue for four more home games, one to three at KC’s Sprint Center, then up to six in the NCAAs.

• A previous version of this story contained an error.


phogthedog 12 years, 4 months ago

Mr/Mrs. Aldrich should be proud of their son. He is a class act.

Andy Tweedy 12 years, 4 months ago

I think that's the first time I've heard a parent of one of these players say "his name is on the check." Refreshing. I don't know the Aldrich family, but they seem like nice people and sure seem grounded for a family who is on the verge of having a millionaire son!

Jeff Schartz 12 years, 4 months ago

I am really going to miss the "Missing Tooth Wonder." This guy has been one of my all-time KU favorites.

minnhawk84 12 years, 4 months ago

Come of folks, someone in Lawrence get this man a job! You gotta be kidding me; there has to be an alum/fan who has a spot for this guy, even in this economy. This is a Minnesota worker -- we know how to work hard and get the job done. GET THIS MAN A JOB!

Martin Rosenblum 12 years, 4 months ago

Walt - be very careful. You never know what is considered an NCAA infraction. The last thing we need is to have any issues this year or in the future with sanctions coming from violations of those quirky, little known, hard it interpret rules regarding "favors" or "gifts". Please consult somebody at KU about this before it's too late!

MinnesotaJay 12 years, 4 months ago

A great Jayhawk, and a great Jayhawk dad!

My daughter (who is now a KU junior) and I will never forget watching Cole's Bloomington Jefferson team play against her Eden Prairie Eagles, and quietly and secretly rooting for Cole, knowing they would both soon be Jayhawks.

Nick Cole 12 years, 4 months ago

Can I dream about Cole staying another year? Wow wouldn't that be awesome...

vmwskywalk 12 years, 4 months ago

Walt, you are a shining example of a wonderful parent. You have wisdom beyond your years and you have passed that along to your son. We are proud of you, Cole and the rest of your family for being great ambassadors for the University of Kansas. Thanks for being a Jayhawk.

tical523 12 years, 4 months ago

We are lucky fans, we are blessed with Cole and how he rubs off on our team. I hope nobody takes it for granted, we are fortunate to watch top notch quality basketball with top notch quality kids every year. Bill Self recruits top notch players and I am never turned off by attitude or cockiness (atleast after due time), and I don't know if it is the recruits or Bill himself. Obviously Jayhawks like Cole, J Wright or all of the "Roy's Boys" are self disciplined and motivated but I think Bill does a hell of a job of getting our players to understand how privileged they are; he gets them to work hard and simply enjoy their experience. When I watch other games I am constantly turned off by some of the attitudes and empty swagger from teams. . . we do need Sherron's swagger, but it is his senior leadership and connection with Bill that makes him the stud he is.

bradynsdad 12 years, 4 months ago

cole is a kid that is very rare. even when getting a technical and fouling out he never gets rattled. by far one of my all time favorite players. Do what bobby knight says, stay all four years and get a degree.

Matt Bowers 12 years, 4 months ago

Walt, I want you to know that I have been livin the dream through my television. God I miss Lawrence.

Rock Chalk

Ten Yeahs 12 years, 4 months ago

Does Jayhawk Nation want to see some guard from Kentucky get the Award for best collegiate point guard? We all know who deserves this award! Go to the website! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! spread the word. COLLINS in 0 10!

Mike Kendall 12 years, 4 months ago

kustrong---miss Lawrence, too!

"He's not just a strong basketball player, but smart, too!" --Walt Aldrich

Great quote from a great dad! I do hope he can find work in Lawrence. The power of prayer helps!

Good luck with Iowa State on Saturday, Cole!

Bill Shaw 12 years, 4 months ago

Well, how about that. Big Mama IS in the house!

Lone_salina_kufan 12 years, 4 months ago

“First of all, he would have the millions. His name is on the check, not mine,” Greatest quote in the article. Awesome to see he doesn't have a bunch of money grabbing freeloaders surrounding him. Clearly, they truly want whats best for HIM, not them. Thats rare sometimes. Especially with the hardships they've had, to not be in his ear telling him to be their savior, that's pretty special

Steve Brown 12 years, 4 months ago

Stud of the year. Cole da man.

Paint Domination:

Shot Block Termination:

Free Throw Determination:

The Studinator: Cole Aldrich

Keckadek 12 years, 4 months ago

That's an emotion inducing article. Good stuff.

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