His broadcast partner, Tom Leach, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Pratt, 73, was like a big brother to him.
“Mike knew everybody,” said Leach, who co-wrote a book on the Wildcats with Pratt that was published earlier this year. “Everybody just loved and gravitated to him, so I got to be the younger brother just hanging around and listening to the stories and loving it.”
Pratt was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2019, and treatments caused him to miss Kentucky games at Georgia and Auburn in January of that year.
“As I look back now, he was going through a lot more pain than we appreciated,” Leach said. “He never missed a game (thereafter). He never missed being prepared. So he was the consummate pro all the way through it.”
Earlier this year, Pratt reportedly had developed a painful nerve condition called neuropathy and decided to seek an alternative approach to cancer treatment that was scheduled to take him Southern California on Thursday to begin treatment at Hope4cancer.
The planned treatments were not covered by insurance, but Kentucky head coach John Calipari helped promote an online fund-raising effort by announcing he and wife Ellen would match the first $50,000 raised.
“If you know Mike Pratt, you know what a special man he is,” Calipari tweeted. “He’s a dear friend to many and a gentleman to all. And Mike needs our help.”
Michael P. Pratt was born on Aug. 4, 1948.
He grew up near the intersection of Gettysburg Ave. and Hillcrest Ave., and his name began appearing in Dayton newspapers by the time he turned 15.
A note appeared in the Dec. 27, 1962, edition of the Dayton Daily News about Pratt getting ready for his first start with the varsity Lions in a game against Sidney.
Meadowdale coach Jack Jones said Pratt “does a fine job on teamwork” and had scored 38 points in two reserve games after starting the season on the freshman team.
A day later, the Journal Herald noted he scored 10 points as the Lions beat Sidney 55-50.
They later went on to make headlines when they upset Belmont — with stars Don May and Bill Hosket Jr. — in the tournament with Pratt being credited with holding Hosket without a field goal for the first time in his storied career.
By the time he was done, Pratt was an all-state performer and the all-time leading scorer in City League play with 1,395 points.
He spurned the hometown college for Kentucky, though, saying at the time the only reason was a desire to “get away from home and grow up while getting my education.”
Fifty years later, he told the Dayton Daily News turning down a scholarship offer from University of Dayton coach Don Donoher was not easy.
“My whole family grew up Flyer fans,” he said in 2016. “When Dayton offered me a scholarship, it was unbelievable — more so than if it would have been Ohio State.
“Coach Donoher and (assistant Chuck) Grigsby were great men. Don May was someone I looked up to in high school, him and Hosket were heroes to me.”
At Kentucky, the 6-foot-4 forward earned second-team All-America and was a two-time All-SEC selection while playing alongside Dan Issel and Mike Casey for coach Adolf Rupp. His 1,359 points still rank 26th in program history, and he was inducted into the UK athletics hall of fame in 2009.
After college, Pratt played two seasons in the American Basketball Association for the Kentucky Colonels, and he coached at UNC-Charlotte before becoming a pro scout and then going into broadcasting.
Pratt was inducted into the Kentucky (state) Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.
Survivors include wife Marcia Schmidt Pratt, brother Patrick Pratt and his wife Andrea Pratt, daughter Tamaryn Pratt and her husband Jonas Tanenbaum, son Christopher Pratt and his wife Amy Pratt, and stepchildren Christina Stone and her husband Tyler Stone, Andy Schutz and his wife Kaelin, Tim Schutz and his wife Sarah and 10 grandchildren.
The family plans to have a Celebration of Life gathering at UK, but details were not yet set as of Friday morning.