There is a constantly growing mountain of evidence that IU coach Tom Crean is the give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back type, with wide-ranging stories of his coming to the aid of total strangers. Here’s the latest bit from Rick Bozich, formerly of the Louisville Courier-Journal, now of WDRB in Louisville.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Caleb Anderson’s car was stuck in a ditch, facing West after he had been driving East. It was nearly 1 a.m. Saturday. Several fresh inches of snow had fallen in Bloomington, Ind., on top of the dozen that accumulated Christmas night. The pavement on Ind. Highway 45 leading to Unionville was slick.
Anderson is 19, a freshman receiver for the Anderson University football team. He had been driving home from a friend’s house, when he reached an icy spot, braked, overcorrected and spun 180 degrees. He was on the telephone, talking to his mother, asking what his next move should be.
That’s when somebody knocked on the window of his 1992 Honda Accord. Anderson rolled it down and told his mother he needed to go.
“Mom, it’s Tom Crean,” Anderson said. “He said he’ll help me get the car out.”
For the next 10 or 15 minutes, Crean certainly tried, standing in front of Anderson’s car, working to push it from the rut and snow and ice.
Crean and his son, Riley, had been driving home from Assembly Hall. On Friday night, Crean’s fifth-ranked Indiana team had defeated Jacksonville, 93-59. Father and son stayed late at the office, preparing for the Hoosiers’ first Big Ten road trip. IU plays at Iowa at 4 p.m. Monday.
“He was dressed very nice,” Anderson said. “The first thing he asked me was if I was OK. I told him that I was. Then he said, ‘Let’s try to get you out of here.’ It’s too bad he didn’t have a few players in the car with him.”
Crean and Anderson were unable to dislodge the car. Another stranger arrived with a truck and chain 20 minutes later and pulled Anderson onto the road. Fortunately, his car remained driveable, and he arrived home after 1 a.m.
Crean was reluctant to discuss the story. “I just saw somebody who needed help and that’s what I tried to do,” he said. “I’ll do it again the next time I see somebody who needs help. I hope somebody would do the same for me or my family.”
I learned about the story from a friend of Rachel Kearney, who lives in Bloomington. Anderson had been visiting Kearney’s home, where he had watched the IU-Jacksonville game with Kearney’s son, Leo Sonnefeld, and another friend, Luke Vargas.
“I thought it said a lot about Coach Crean’s character that he would pull over in the middle of the night to help a stranger like that,” Kearney said. “I just wish he would have had (IU junior) Victor Oladipo with him.”
“When I first saw him, I did a double take,” Anderson said. “I was surprised it was him. But everybody has always told me that he’s a nice person and it showed me that he really is.”