Disabato: Kendell Spearment leaves the violence behind, makes the most of a different life at St. Laurence

Photo provided by St. Laurence Sports Media Club

Article by Pat Disabato of Daily Southtown

Kendell Spearment isn’t sure what his life would be like if he had remained in Englewood with his mother and two younger siblings.

But he had seen enough — one older brother killed, the other in jail — to realize he needed a change of scenery to have a chance.

“I knew I didn’t want to get caught up with anything,” Spearment said. “You have some friends who want you to go down the wrong path with them. I never wanted to be in that life.”

He has created a better life at St. Laurence — with the love and care of some amazing people.

Whether Spearment could have outrun the trouble that plagues Englewood is another matter.

The fact that he’s at St. Laurence is improbable — some might suggest it’s an act of God.

Spearment’s local church, Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, offered him the chance of a lifetime four years ago.

The church, according to the Rev. David Kelly asked him to choose a private high school to attend away from the violence of Englewood.

“Kendell was part of our summer program,” Kelly said. “We saw a young man who could have gone the wrong way and be influenced by the streets. If we didn’t do anything, he might have followed the same path as his brothers. But we also saw a young man who had tremendous potential.”

The hope was a private school would provide a safe haven, allowing Spearment to flourish academically and athletically.

“The church allowed me to get me out of the environment I was in,” Spearment said. “Coming to St. Laurence changed my life.”

In more ways than just having a safe school to attend.

Getting to and from school, living in one of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods, would have been challenging.

No one knows that better than Spearment.

One of his older brothers, Korry Rogers, was fatally shot on Sept. 4, 2016 at age 19. His death was ruled a homicide.

That date used to be a day of celebration — it’s also Kendell’s birthday. Now it’s a day of mourning.

“It hurts me on that day,” Spearment said. “My brother always wanted me to do the right thing. He was happy I was at St. Laurence.”

Another older brother, Kerry Rogers is incarcerated for murder. He’s serving a 38-year sentence at Menard Correctional Center.

“He tells me to keep my grades up and to keep doing what I’m doing,” Spearment said of Kerry. “To never follow the wrong path.”

Roshonda Booker and her family made certain Spearment avoided that path. Booker is a teacher at Arthur A. Libby Elementary School in Chicago. She taught Kendell, Korry and Kerry.

Booker knew for Kendell to thrive, he couldn’t call Englewood home.

Roshonda and David Booker graciously accepted Spearment into their home. Roshonda’s two sons, Justin and Christian, attended St. Laurence. She believed the school would be a good fit.

“In eighth grade, I thought Kendell would be a target if he stayed in Englewood,” Booker said. “People wanted to get back at him for what his brother (Kerry) did.

“Kendell was different. You saw the potential in him. He just needed a chance. He needed to be shown something different.”

What the Bookers showed Spearment was family structure and discipline. And, yes, love. Things he desperately needed.

“We try to teach him like our other two children to be good people, to honor your word, be respectful to others and to be a gentlemen,” Booker said. “Kendell continues to grow as a person. I’m very proud of him.”

St. Laurence coach Harold Blackmon is proud of the person Spearment has become.

“The Bookers allowed Kendell to experience life outside of Englewood,” Blackmon said. “They’re amazing people. Kendell has been through a lot in life. That he shows up with a smile on his face every day is nothing short of amazing.”

Spearment has much to smile about these days. His grades are in good standing, and he has been getting feelers to play college football.

“A few Division II schools have shown interest,” Blackmon said. “He’s going to play football somewhere. He’s a hard worker and our best tackler.”

Spearment is beyond thankful to those who have put him on this path to success. He wants to study criminal justice and enjoy a career in law enforcement — like David Booker, who works at the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.

“The Bookers have done so much for me,” Spearment said. “They’re like a mother and father to me. Coach Blackmon is an awesome person. It’s because of all of them and the church that I’m in this position.

“I’ve learned what’s right and what’s wrong. I’ve learned to help each other out, to be a leader. I want to go on and do great things.”

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