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Mike Casey, one of Shelby County’s most famous citizens, died Thursday after a long battle with heart disease. He was 60.
Casey passed away at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he had been hospitalized since January as doctors tried desperately to prepare his deteriorating body for a transplant. Infection and maladies to other organs weakened him severely, and a variety of treatments failed to improve him. Two weeks ago, doctors installed a bilateral pump to help his heart, damaged by an infection in 1989, function, but he never fully recovered from that procedure and for most of that time was assisted by a respirator. Casey’s daughter, Laura Lake, his sister, Masha Miller, Lake’s mother, Joy Casey, and other family and friends were in constant vigil in his last days, and as recently as Tuesday Lake described stability in his status and the hopes of the family. Casey, a native of Simpsonville, in 1966 led Shelby County High School to its first state championship in any sport, when it defeated Male, 62-57, in the Sweet 16 basketball tournament. He was named Mr. Basketball for led his team to victory in the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Series. Casey, a 6-foot-4 forward, signed with the University of Kentucky, where he switched to guard and was a 3-year starter for Coach Adolph Rupp, despite a broken leg that forced him to sit out one season. He was named All-Southeastern Conference three times and played in three NCAA Tournaments. He finished as the 13th leading scorer in UK history. He was drafted by both the NBA and the old ABA but did not play professionally. An accomplished baseball player who helped lead Shelby County to the state finals in that sport, too, he starred in softball in the top leagues in the area. Just last month Casey received official word that he would be inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame, an honor that moved him. That ceremony is April 29. He also was named the charter member of the Eighth Region Hall of Fame this year, and SCHS raised a banner in his honor for winning Mr. Basketball. He was a career salesman for the Balfour Corporation, which, among other things, sells class rings, until his retirement. He is survived by Lake of Nashville and Miller of Shelbyville. No information about services is known. Check back at SentinelNews.com for details and see Wednesday’s Sentinel-News for more coverage of the life and times of Casey.