I spent half a year living with my mother and roughly a year living with my father, first in Salina, followed by a move back to Kansas City. My mother and sister came to stay with us after that, and the family was reunited. This was around 1985-1986 I believe: the Royals had just won the World Series, and the Kings had skipped town. As I become more self-aware, I picked up on a new dynamic in my relationship with my parents. My father was the breadwinner and the nurturer; if I needed a ‘yes’ I would go to my father. As I’ve alluded to earlier, the respect I show my elders, my compassion for others comes from him. My mother was the disciplinarian, my mother raised my sister and I. My hustle, my perfectionism, my attitude all come from my mother. As I became a teenager and we started butting heads on a daily basis, it was my mother who would end every argument with, “You don’t have to like me, but as long as you live in this house you have to respect me!” Truer words never spoken.
To finish my childhood in Kansas City was a culture shock based on how my life started. It was my first time going to school in a true big city (if you have more than two high schools in your town, you qualify as a big city). Both my father’s brothers stayed in KC, so it was the first time I had extended family in town. Based on what happened later it seems weird to say, but the biggest adjustment was being around black people all the time. We laughed about it as we got older, but the transition from me yelling on the court “Gee whillikers, come on you guys!” to “Play hard mother****ers!” was a long, long one for me.
All things considered, I think Kansas City is a great place to raise a family. The people are very friendly, the cost of living is reasonable. As a sports fan, you have a passionate fan base for football; and very strong collegiate fan bases in all four directions. Even among some of my friends, there’s a belief that I don’t like my hometown on principle; that’s not it at all. It’s similar to my alma mater where I have more of a ‘big brother’ complex: I’ll talk smack about it all day, but if you’re not from there, you can’t say anything.
My transition from 8 to 18: spiritually, professionally, as a person overall was pretty dramatic even by adolescent standards. To see what I’ve become, I still wonder how someone of my specific demographic background came from Kansas.