It is not often that people get to meet their heroes, but it is even rarer when their hero is someone who had retired before they were even born. That was the case for one local boy who got the chance to learn the finer points of basketball at one of the game’s biggest legends camp in August.
Caleb Morris was born in 2004, a full year after Michael Jordan retired from the game of basketball, but that did not keep this tech savvy eight-year-old from becoming a big Michael Jordan fan.
During one of his many Michael Jordan researching sessions, Caleb came across a basketball camp hosted by Jordan in California.
“I just wanted to go, because I was such a big fan of him,” Caleb recently shared with the Herald.
Caleb has been playing basketball since he was only four years old, and has loved the game ever since. He spends much of his summers in basketball camps, and has developed some impressive skills for his age.
During a visit to a family friend, Dr. Karen Kimsey, who is from California, Caleb asked her how much it cost to get there. Puzzled by the question, she began a conversation with him about why he was trying to get to California.
Caleb told Dr. Kimsey that he was trying to go to a basketball camp hosted by Michael Jordan.
“She registered him and they accepted him,” said Kristin Feltner, Caleb’s mom. “So she sent him.”
Feltner said that it was tricky to get the time off from her job as a pretrial officer, but she was determined to give her son this opportunity that likely wouldn’t have come around twice.
“I thought, I am going to have to quit my job, but my child is going to get to do this. It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said Feltner, adding that it all worked out and she thankfully did not have to quit her job.
The camp was held in Santa Barbara, California, which meant that Caleb was also going to have to fly for the first time.
“That was his first time flying at all, so it was an adventure for mommy, daddy and him,” said Feltner.
Caleb said that he loved the flights, though his mom was a bit more nervous than he was.
“He liked it,” she said. “He said, mom next time we aren’t driving to Florida.”
When they got to the camp, there were hundreds of other kids between the ages of seven and 18 from around the world, many of them needing interpreters. The campers were split into teams based on age. Caleb’s age bracket was the South Eastern Conference.
When he was placed on a team named after the Tennessee Volunteers, this eight-year-old University of Kentucky fan was a little disappointed, but decided to make the best of it.
“I said I am from Kentucky, I am going to go in there and win that championship,” Caleb remembered.
As it turned out, Caleb was the only camper from Kentucky. The next closest was from Illinois.
Feltner said she was nervous that the camp wouldn’t live up to Caleb’s expectations, and that Michael Jordan wouldn’t actually be there. She was pleasantly surprised when she realized that Jordan took an active role in talking to the campers and appeared every day of the camp.
Jordan even hosted a signing day where he signed items for the campers. Feltner got a Michael Jordan Legends basketball signed by him, but he also brought something along to give to the basketball legend.
“He took Michael Jordan a UK championship shirt,” Feltner said. “Caleb said if he is going to sign my ball, I am going to sign his shirt, so Caleb signed his shirt, and put ‘from Hazard, Kentucky.’”
Caleb was taught many new basketball skills, and even got to play in a tournament replicating the SEC tournament. His team coach was a McDonald’s All American, as were many of the others at the camp.
It was a combination of experienced coaches and talented youngsters that brought his team the championship in the tournament. He and his team received a plaque for their achievement.
By the end of camp, Caleb had gotten to meet his idol, win a brand new pair of Michael Jordan shoes that haven’t even hit the store shelves, and a bag full of Michael Jordan goodies like a new backpack, sweat bands and a one-of-a-kind experience. Feltner said that they have already been offered up to $2,000 for the signed basketball, but she said they have no intentions of selling it.
Caleb said that he loved the camp, and wishes he was still there.