I knew Kendra Little as far back as 1992. Both my family and other families in neighboring neighborhoods we knew were friends with the Little family. Most of my ’90s memories with the Little kids – Kendra, her older brother, and her sister, were the summers of swimming in our neighborhood pools and playing both basketball and video games. Unfortunately, almost every one of us lost contact with Kendra and the Little family after they decided to move towards the end of 1999 – around the time I graduated eighth grade. In the years after their move, I had heard very few updates about the Littles, mainly that Kendra had become a young rising sports star in golf. Golf was the last sport I imagined Kendra being involved with because Kendra clearly was destined to be a basketball star. So much so that, later in life, I figured Kendra would be a trailblazing sports star and join the ranks of Michael Jordan, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, and Lisa Leslie.
The years came and went and updates on the Little family became scarcer. But on Monday, someone alerted me to a YouTube video featuring Kendra Little – made by Maverick Carter and NBA superstar Lebron James’ athlete empowerment brand UNINTERRUPTED. I imagined this video would be an ESPN-style documentary on the greatness that was Kendra Little. Fifty seconds into the video, it became apparent that Kendra was opening up for the first time about a personal struggle. Kendra, according to the video description, “was born with androgen insensitivity syndrome, a variation of intersex.”
As I was watching Kendra’s personal story unfold, the first thought racing in my mind was, “To be Kendra for all these years having battles with yourself trying to live life the way you are but also feeling trapped in fear because of what others and the world might think of you.” And to walk away from a sport you’ve loved to protect yourself from unprovoked, unwanted and hateful scrutiny has to be ultra devastating. Especially in today’s world where social media can be your best friend one day but rear its ugly head of hate, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and misinformation the next. It was also my first glance at Kendra’s parents and her sister, whom I had not seen in over 20 years. Looking back on those carefree 90s days, Kendra was an ordinary kid like the rest of us but we all loved her then.
My only hope with this video is that Kendra can continue to live a happy life knowing that others outside of her family love her for the person we all knew growing up – regardless of what others think, say and judge Kendra and people going through life like Kendra. Actually, I hope other people around the world will find and be inspired by Kendra’s story. Wherever life takes Kendra, I will always be on Team Kendra forever, even if none of us from her past may see her again.