“It’s a day every parent fears, yet there I was, living the nightmare. It was surreal. It’s still hard to wrap my head around the emotions of that day. I stood there consumed by grief on the saddest day of my life while, at the same time, feeling the pride and joy of realizing what a wonderful son I’d raised. That joy would lead down another deep spiral of despair.”
This excerpt from the book “Game Changer SK-11:A Young Athlete’s Success, A Parent’s Grief” is indicative of the no-punches-pulled writing style used by Richard Kendrick, the first-time author. Kendrick’s son, Steven “Stevo” Kendrick, died Jan. 27, 2019 after an automobile crash. The above book excerpt is describing Stevo’s funeral. Stevo, 19, was a standout baseball player for Munford High School and was a member of the Southwest Tennessee Community College baseball team at the time of his death.
The book is primarily about Stevo, but Richard also delves into other weighty subjects like excessive drinking, bar fights, divorce and the deaths of several other people close to him and his son, including Chase Suggs, a teammate of Stevo’s at Munford who died in an ATV accident three months before Stevo died.
The book was published last month and is available on websites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Kendrick, 49, said he began writing it six months after the death of his son.
“In all honesty, in the beginning it started out as just a little bit of therapy to help me along,” Kendrick said. “Then I thought if I could just touch or just help one family.”
A recurring theme of the book is family and regrets. Stevo was an excellent baseball player from a very young age and played on traveling teams throughout his youth and his father coached most of them.
“You sacrifice everything,” Kendrick said about the rigors of traveling baseball. “At the end of the day what’s really important is just spending time with family. If I can help just one family spend one more weekend together that would be great.”
Kendrick goes into a lot of detail about the day Stevo died. Nicholas Sparks, a Southwest teammate of Stevo’s, was driving a Ford F-150 and Stevo was the passenger. The two were going on an early-morning duck hunting trip in Arkansas when the vehicle left the road and overturned. Stevo died on the scene and Sparks survived. Kendrick believes both were asleep at the time of the accident.
“It was hard sometimes because it seemed like there was a lack of remorse, but there was also probably some attorneys involved that told him (Sparks) not to have any contact,” Kendrick said. “Honestly, I’m just kind of lost in that regard. I say my prayers for that young man too because I know that he has to have a hard time sometimes, just thinking about some of the things he saw.”
Kendrick interviewed several local people for the book and discovered that people are generally apprehensive to talk about Stevo unless they are asked.
“A lot of people are walking around on egg shells and not knowing how to talk to you when you go through a loss like that,” Kendrick said. “Hearing those stories and getting some of those memories, it actually makes the parent feel good to hear from the people who touched Steven’s life. Those memories actually keep him alive and keep him going. I love hearing those stories and I love talking about him. To me, he’s still here every day. I think a lot of people are afraid to approach me or bring his name up. I say bring it on. I love talking about him.”