On Sunday afternoon, Kylan Chandler loaded his vehicle with a few belongings then took a long road trip with his son, Kennedy Chandler, 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 with which he’s come to embrace in recent years.
Kennedy 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 thorough 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, 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 5 years old.
No doubt, the father-and-son union has since become virtually inseparable.
For starters, Chandler 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, Chandler’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, Chandler has become a fixture in gymnasiums throughout the country, regardless of where the "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 Championship in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Surely, Chandler 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," Chandler told Bleacher Report 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, Chandler 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, Chandler 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," Chandler 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 his son is a huge financial sacrifice, Chandler's presence in the stands is priceless for Kennedy.
"One time, my wife (Rosalind) called me while I was working and said, 'Kennedy is having a bad game,'" Chandler 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, Chandler 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 that enabled him to become the devoted basketball dad he is.
Chandler's parents celebrated 50 years of marriage in February.
"I came from a basketball family," Chandler 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, Chandler said seeing his son—whose young skills have drawn comparisons to Kyrie Irving of the 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," Chandler 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, Chandler hinted.
"If I’m yelling and acting up, he'll start acting that way," Chandler 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, Chandler 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," Chandler 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 contributor for Bleacher Report. To reach Johnson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA’s Southwest Division. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.
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