John Y. Brown Jr. followed various pursuits during the course of his life. He would be instrumental in the rise of one of the world's most famous restaurant chains. Perhaps Brown's biggest professional success, but not the only interesting note on his career.

Brown owned multiple major sports franchises. Including arguably the most storied team in the National Basketball Association for a brief, but turbulent, time. Not to mention, he would win a high political office.

Died on November 22, 2022

John Y. Brown Jr. has passed away. The New York Times indicates that it was due to complications derived from COVID-19.

WLKY reports that Brown will lie in state at the Kentucky Capitol State Capitol on November 29. With a funeral service on-site the following day.

Brown was a native of Lexington, Kentucky. His father, John Y. Brown Sr., was a member of the United States House of Representatives. After graduating from Lafayette High School, the younger Brown enrolled at the University of Kentucky. There, he was a member of the golf team and obtained a bachelor's degree. He then followed it up with a degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Along the way, he served for several years in the United States Army.

Brown's career as a lawyer did not last very long, but he did a famed client during that time span.

He served as legal counsel for football star Paul Hornung. Paul Hornung had won a Heisman Trophy before becoming an NFL star with the Green Bay Packers. Hornung landed himself in trouble for gambling. In the end, he lost a year of his playing career. Eventually, he would still be inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

John Jr.'s son, John Young Brown III, would also go into politics. He would be elected as the Kentucky secretary of state. In 2007, Kentucky State Representative and gubernatorial candidate Jody Richards tapped Brown III as his potential lieutenant governor. Richards, however, finished in a distant fourth in the Democratic primary.

Former Lieutenant Governor and State Attorney General Steve Beshear won the nomination and later the general election.

Pamela Brown, daughter of John Jr., has become a noted journalist. She is currently a newscaster and reporter for CNN. Previously, she worked for WJLA, an ABC-affiliated television station in Washington, D.C..

Helped make KFC one of the world's most recognizable food chains

In the mid-1960s, John Y. Brown Jr. led a particular investment group. This group purchased Kentucky Fried Chicken from the company's iconic founder, Harlan Sanders. Brown had previously owned a chain of barbecue restaurants.

Brown and the other new owners quickly changed the KFC format. Changing it from a diner-style set-up to a fast food environment.

They also went about expansion at a rapid pace. By the end of the decade, KFC had become one of the biggest restaurant chains in the United States. And had become an increasingly large presence on the international stage. It had also become a publicly-traded company.

Brown would later sell his stake in the company. It has since become a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, along with the likes of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. By some metrics, it has been listed as the second-biggest restaurant chain in the world.

Owned three professional basketball teams

Around the same time that Brown became involved with KFC, he also became involved in professional basketball. At the time, the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association were both legitimate basketball leagues.

John Y. Brown Jr.'s first basketball franchise was the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA. Some of the others in management thought Brown was too meddlesome in team operations. But his tenure as Colonels owner did have significant high points. The Colonels won the ABA Championship in 1975. But almost immediately after, things started to go off the rails.

The NBA and ABA would merge. If Brown wanted to keep the Colonels operating in the newly-formatted NBA, he would've been expected to $3 million. Instead, he opted to take the payout worth the same amount to fold the team altogether.

Despite indicating that he no longer wished to be part of the basketball business, Brown would buy the NBA's Buffalo Braves.

Later, he traded the Braves to Irv Levin for the famed Boston Celtics. Levin would move the Braves to San Diego, California and re-name the team as the Clippers. After he sold the Clippers, they've since moved again to Los Angeles.

Brown quickly alienated the Celtics fanbase with a number of unpopular trades. He also clashed with the team's president and general manager, Red Auerbach. After less than two years, Brown would sell his ownership stake in the Celtics.

Served as governor of Kentucky

In 1979, Brown launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor of Kentucky. Others in the field included former Louisville Mayor Harvey I. Sloane and Lieutenant Governor Thelma Stovall. As well as U.S.

Representative Carroll Hubbard. Hubbard later got into legal trouble and was sent to prison. He died 10 days before John Y. Brown Jr..

Brown emerged victorious in the Democratic primary. He went on to handily defeat the Republican nominee, former Governor Louie Nunn, in the general election. Brown's health would become a significant matter during his time as governor.

He would be hospitalized for severe high blood pressure and later undergo a quadruple bypass surgery. He also, possibly even more so, struggled with pulmonary issues. Brown's struggles with his lungs also left him hospitalized for a significant period of time. Including at one point when he was comatose and when his pulse had stopped.

Kentucky law at the time prohibited Brown from running for another consecutive term as governor. But the state of his health at the time likely would've posed as a major barrier to the possibility if he were eligible. But Brown would eventually go for a political comeback.

In 1994, he launched a primary challenge against Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Walter Dee Huddleston. However, recurring health issues led to him withdrawing from the race. Huddleton was later narrowly defeated in the general election by Republican former county official Mitch McConnell. McConnell would later go on to become the majority leader of the United States Senate.

In 1987, Brown made another try for the Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

His competitors included former Governor Julian Carroll and future Governor Steve Beshear. All of them would come up short against businessman Wallace Wilkinson. Wilkinson won the general election in a landslide over Republican State Representative John Harper. But he, too, would later become embroiled in legal problems. He died from heart problems and blood cancer before the legal matter were resolved.