As always, Karlon William King fields the question as if he expects it.
“People often ask me, ‘How are you still here?’ Karlon explained. “And I reply, ‘It’s nothing but the grace and mercy of God. The Lord has a calling upon my life and I don’t think it’s time for me to leave this earth until my assignment is finally finished.”
To get a thorough understanding of why Karlon has deemed himself a self-proclaimed “walking miracle,” look no further than the potentially fatal events that surrounding him days after his birth 19 years ago.
Having endured an assortment of physical challenges upon his birth, Karlon had to have a shunt inserted down the left side of his head and was extended down inside of his stomach.
According to Medtronics.com, a shunt is hole or a small passage that moves or allows movement of fluid from one part of the body to another. The term may describe either congenital or acquired shunts and acquired shunts — sometimes referred to as iatrogenic shunts — may be either biological or mechanical.
In Karlon’s case, the shunt was installed to drain excess fluids off of his brain that wasn’t needed.
However, four years ago, the Lynwood, Calif. native was rushed to the hospital after doctors discovered what had been an improperly installed shunt, a potentially fatal occurrence that hospitalized him for a lengthy period of time.
“Only God knew exactly what He was doing,” Karlon recalled. “He was giving me a testimony for millions to hear all around the world.”
Four years removed from an apparent frightening medical procedure many feared would ultimately send him to his grave before his Sweet 16th birthday, Karlon’s family and friends will almost certainly be left crying tears of joy when the
Bolton High senior walks across the stage to receive his diploma on Saturday.
One minute, this soft-spoken, devout Christian teenager is lying stretched out on an operation table, his young life hanging the balance in the process. Four years later, he’s surprisingly filling out college applications, looking ahead to a bright future that once seemed very much in doubt.
“I am very proud of Karlon,” said Ernestine King, Karlon’s mother in MemphiSport’s inaugural Salute To Graduates 2015. “When I look at him I see how marvelous God is. Karlon is a walking, talking miracle. Doctors had given him up to die. They said he would not survive a week. Karlon was born four months prematurely. He had hemorrhaging and fluid on his brain which required emergency surgery and a shunt placement to drain the fluid. He was on the respirator for the first four months of his life. For the first five years of his life Karlon had a swallowing disorder due to the tube in his throat. He could eat solid foods.”
Looking at him today, people would be hard-pressed to tell that Karlon had once faced arguably the darkest hours of his young life. As his mother has said time and again when sharing testimonies, though, God had other plans for her son who, today, is a fixture in the historic Church of God In Christ.
A couple years ago, Karlon was installed as a national Adjutant under the leadership Of Bishop Matthew Williams in which he works mostly with the Board of Bishops, most notably COGIC’s Presiding Bishop, Charles E. Blake, Sr.
In addition, he routinely assists and serves Tennessee Fourth Ecclesiastical Jurisdictional Prelate, Bishop Jerry L. Maynard, Sr. under the leadership of Pastor Antonio M. Buckley. Also, he serves his local church (Faith Temple Ministries COGIC), where assists Pastor Andrew Jackson, Sr.
“I must say that the Church Of God In Christ has allowed me to use my gift to the glory of God,” Karlon said. “And I will be forever grateful for a wonderful leader that we have for the COGIC Inc.”
As for his future ambitions, Karlon, who acquired a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, will attend Southwest Tennessee Community College this fall, where he plans to major in Computer Engineering and minor in Music.
Eventually, he plans to become an entrepreneur.
All of which, of course, is dramatic comeback for the ages for a vibrant, enthusiastic kid who, just four years ago, witnessed his life hanging in the balance.
“I’m proud and thankful that God gave Karlon the will and determination to fight, struggle, and overcome every single obstacle that came his way,” Ernestine said. “Because of what Karlon’s been through, he now councils, comforts and encourages others, young and old. Karlon has the right stuff. His friends nicknamed him “Bishop”, “Deacon” and “Grandpa” as terms of respect. The sky is the limit for Karlon because God has His hands on his life. Truly, God left Karlon on this earth for a God-ordained purpose.”
That, after all, is why her son fields the question as if he expects it.
“People often ask me, ‘How are you still here?’” Karlon said once again.
This time while displaying his signature smile.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you would like to salute a Class of 2015 graduate with a unique celebratory tribute that will be designed like this one, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.