UT’s faculty and staff are jammed with intellectual and sports stars who are bright lights in their fields, but the star power surrounding track coach Bev Kearney just got blinding.
She is one of seven legends in music, literature, entertainment, media, service, and education who was honored at the fifth BET Honors gala last month in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will air on BET tonight at 8 p.m. CST.
Just listen to her fellow honorees this year: Maya Angelou, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Spike Lee, and the Tuskegee Airmen. First Lady Michelle Obama was even in the house. Wowzers.
Kearney calls it “the highest honor I’ve been given.”
“There is not an honoree who I don’t feel a connection to. It’s truly an amazing group of people,” Kearney said in a statement. “I am humbled and inspired.”
Now in her fourth decade of coaching, Kearney is one of the most decorated coaches in women’s track and field. She has led the Longhorns to six national titles and been given her rightful place in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.
Just as importantly, her personal courage and determination have inspired thousands—including us at The Alcalde. In writing about her story, we’ve called Kearney the toughest person on this campus, and we stand by it.
Kearney fought her way up from a traumatic childhood in grinding poverty. She put herself and a younger brother through college. She became the first (and for a long time, the only) African American on Texas’ traditionally old-boys-club coaching staff. And she proved herself by winning championship after championship.
After all that, she and a group of close friends were on their way to Disney World the day after Christmas in 2002 when the driver lost control of their SUV. Two of the women were killed. Thrown from the vehicle as it flipped, Kearney was left paralyzed, her head bashed and her spinal cord torn up.
One of the women left a toddler daughter behind. Kearney adopted the little girl, taking on motherhood even as she slowly battled her way from having to be rolled over in the hospital bed to walking with the aid of a cane.
Watch the awards show tonight, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. CST on BET.
Kearney, third from left, poses with fellow BET Honors recipients, including Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Spike Lee, and the night’s special guest, First Lady Michelle Obama. Photo courtesy BET.
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