On Sunday afternoon, Kylan Chandler loaded his vehicle with a few belongings then took a long road trip with his son, Kennedy, a 616-mile drive from Memphis to Charlotte, North Carolina .
A commute that took approximately 11 hours, Chandler and his son arrived to the East coast at around 3 a.m. Monday.
For Chandler , a former Memphis entrepreneur, he’d be the first to tell you that traveling across the country with his son is something about which he’s come to embrace in recent years.
Kennedy Chandler is an 11-year-old standout for Nashville’s “We All Can Go All-Stars” 11-and-under AAU basketball team that competes nationally. He has been a force as the team’s floor general and facilitator, averaging 18 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and four steals.
To get a thoroughly understanding of how Kennedy has managed to enjoy success in recent years, particularly on the amateur hoops circuit, look no further than the unyielding support his father has demonstrated since his son first reached for a basketball.
Kylan Chandler, a former Memphis Hamilton High basketball player who was prep teammates with former University of Arkansas star and ex-NBA player Todd Day in the late 1980s, was granted custody of Kennedy when he was five years old.
No doubt, the father-and-son union has since become virtually inseparable.
For starters, Kylan decided to permanently shut down his business as a popular South Memphis-area restaurant owner, in large part so he could devote a majority of his time to Kennedy. As he tells it, he’s been blessed “beyond measures” ever since.
Now a manager for an ever-evolving company in Southeast Memphis, Kylan’s schedule is now flexible in that he is allowed to travel to practically each of his son’s practices and games.
Whether by plane, train, or automobile, Kylan has become a fixer in gymnasiums throughout the country, regardless of where “We All Can Go All-Stars” are scheduled to play.
So far, the native Memphian has used more than 10,000 frequent flyer miles this year, traveling to places such as Indianapolis, Louisville, Atlantic City, San Diego, Chicago, and Hampton, Virginia, among others, to watch his son in action.
This weekend, “We All Can Go All-Stars” will play in the AAU National Tournament in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Surely, Kylan will be on hand in sunny Florida to witness his son put his skills on display once again, let alone continue to build a camaraderie among his peers.
“It’s mainly for him,” Kylan told MemphiSport during a telephone interview Monday afternoon from Charlotte . “God has given him a gift to play basketball. I’ve always told him if that is what he wants to do, we’re going to go out all out. If it takes me to sacrifice things, that’s what I’m going to do.”
To his credit, Kylan certainly has made an assortment of sacrifices to ensure his son is provided with the necessary exposure to someday play at the collegiate level.
Aside from ceasing operations of his business, Kylan covers all of his son’s travel expenses, most notably hotels, food, and equipment. In return, though, Kennedy is expected to put forth his best effort on and off the court.
Especially off the court, where it counts the most, his father often tells him.
“He’s a student athlete first,” Kylan said of his son, who attends Briarcrest Christian School, a Christian-based private institution in East Memphis. “That’s why I enjoy (traveling with him). I mean, I played (basketball), but I didn’t have a lot of opportunities as him. You’ve got a lot of camps. But it’s also about life’s lessons. You’re learning to build relationships with other kids. My wife and I enjoy it. We do a lot of sacrificing. I’ve always been able to do it, to take off from my job. But even if I couldn’t, I’d use my vacation time. As long as he loves it and enjoys the game, that all that matters.”
While traveling nationwide with Kennedy is a huge financial sacrifice, the presence of seeing his father in the stands is priceless.
“One time, my wife (Rosalind) called me while I was work and said, ‘Kennedy is having a bad game,’” Kylan recalled. “It wasn’t really a bad game. But when I got there, it was a 180-degree turnaround. I think that’s very important in a kid’s life, because they need that motivation. When a kid sees a dad comes to a game, that motivates them.”
Long before Kennedy came along, Kylan was raised in the heart of South Memphis. What he deemed most intriguing about his upbringing is that unlike many of his peers, he had both parents in the home, something he acknowledged enabled him to become the devoted basketball dad is he.
Kylan’s parents celebrated 50 years of marriage in February.
“I came from a basketball family,” Kylan said. “When I came up in South Memphis, (my dad) always came to my games at the YMCA and took me to and from practice. He came to all of my games. But my dad played too. He played all sports. He was always there for me. Since I was brought up like that, that lets me know that’s the way I need to bring up mine.”
Although traveling across the country can become exhausting at times, Kylan said seeing his son — whose young skills have drawn comparisons to Kyrie Irving of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers — play and flourish on the court is what he relishes the most. As he tells it, he hopes his personal life lessons with his son will inspire others to exhibit a tireless effort in the lives of their children.
“It’s very important,” Kylan said. “What you do can have an affect on your son. Every son wants to be like their dad if he’s involved in his life.”
In a nutshell, as the father goes, so does the child, Kylan hinted.
“If I’m yelling and acting up, he’ll start acting that way,” Kylan said. “Like any other parent, I’ll lead him on. That’s what parents do. But it’s very important to stay humble, because if I don’t, he’ll follow in my footsteps and be that way. I can’t do things that are out of character. I think that’s very important to a kid’s life.”
When the AAU portion of the season ends, Kylan said his son’s primary focus will be basketball, unlike in years’ past when he played both basketball and football.
“He had played football since the second grade and was MVP of his (youth) league and the Super Bowl,” Kylan said. “This year, he just wants to stay focused on basketball. That tells me right there that he’s serious. He has some great opportunities ahead of him.”
Surely, dad will be right along for the ride.
Whether by plane, train, or automobile.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for Memphis port. To reach Johnson, email him firstname.lastname@example.org. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA’s Southwest Division. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.