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'I've never had a job': Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport's Louisville love runs deep

Davenport's undying empathy for young people undoubtedly makes him a better coach, grandfather and person.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Casually nestled behind his desk inside Knight's Hall on Bellarmine's campus, Coach Scott Davenport is all smiles, even though the coach didn't get back to Louisville until the early morning hours after a road game. 

"You'll be hard-pressed to find anyone, south, east, west, southern in surrounding Indiana, who loves this community more than I do," Davenport said with a chuckle. "Because this community raised me. It raised me."

He's known as the unofficial mayor of Louisville. Another well-earned nickname: The City's Coach. He even bought everyone a round of drinks at Shenanigan's after Bellarmine won the ASUN in 2022.

Davenport's life wasn't always easy. While some people use "in spite of my beginnings," his attitude is "because of my beginnings."  

Davenport reverberates a positive attitude and humbleness to not only his players but the entire community. 

A born and raised Louisvillian, the beginning of this story starts not too far from where all good races in Louisville begin.  

"Well, let's go back," he said to set the scene when asked how he got where he is now. "Let's go back to Central Avenue where I grew up. A lot of people have a swing set or play with toys in their backyard; we had Churchill Downs."

Davenport began the story of his childhood on Halloween when he was nine. He noted it was a Sunday Halloween, the best day of the week for the holiday. His father died suddenly in the afternoon of a heart attack. A total shock to his family.

Now with just his mother, Davenport began a basketball career just a couple of years later, when he made the 9th-grade team as an 8th grader.  

On his first game day, his coach asked all the players to wear a tie. Davenport had just one tie. The tie he wore to his father's funeral. And it was a clip-on. 

His mother went to a local department store and bought him two ties.  She was a hairdresser with a one-room, schoolhouse education at about a 6th-grade level.

When the family was in need, she worked harder, and more, instilling in Davenport from a young age that hustle pays off.  

Now with ties in tow, Davenport would sneak into school early on game days. He had the ties but didn't have anyone to teach him how to tie them.  

His basketball coach assumed the role, first tying them entirely for Davenport, and later teaching the young man how to tie a tie himself.  

Credit: AP
Bellarmine's head coach Scott Davenport yells towards Yasin Kolo (31) in the first half of a NCAA basketball exhibition game against Cincinnati, November 7, 2015. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

So began not just a love for playing basketball, but a deep appreciation for the entire game, including teamwork and leadership. 

Davenport said he wrote down what his team did every practice, every single day. He even said he noticed him penmanship, grammar and spelling had changed.

"Who are you kidding? You're going to be a basketball coach! Fast forward now to Bellarmine," Davenport said. "A job in my opinion is a vocation. I've never had a job."

For a man who has never had a job, Davenport sure has put in years of work and accomplished amazing feats.

In 2011, the Knights won a DII National Championship under the coach's leadership.

He's successfully steered the team through a DI transition, winning their conference last year.

In October of 2022, a banner was hung on Iroquois High School, his alma mater, a huge surprise to the coach.

"I go out there that Monday morning and they unveil that banner. 'Scotty's Iroquois'. No one knows who that is. But what if one kid looks up and says, 'Wow, but he didn't have this or that'," Davenport said.

Davenport recognizes the unique difficulties children face today and empathizes with them, perhaps more than others of his generation.

"The decisions these young people make today... they make more decisions in one day than I made in a month," Davenport said. "My decision? Am I going to ride my bike to Wyandotte Park or am I going to walk? How tough was that decision?"

Davenport said we must encourage young people to reach out and ask others for help often, especially since the decisions on their shoulders can weigh heavy.

"I never made decisions that have life consequences like these young people do today," Davenport said. "We have to be there for them. We have to encourage them to wear people out that want to help them, then we have to be there to help them."

In building a program at Bellarmine, it's easy to see the physical representation of success in trophies. Davenport says it's more about the lessons he's been able to teach and will teach in the future.  

Credit: WHAS11 News

Lessons not just for the players, but also for the youngest Knights in our community, like his granddaughter Wren. She rarely misses a game and seemingly has decorated "Popsie's" office with all of her artwork.

"It has never been about me and it shouldn't be," Davenport said. "It should be about them, all the other things, that's fine, it should be about them. They're young people, we need them!"

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