AL HAMNIK: Munster's Kindon Crowder realizes his dream at Ball State

2014-03-08T17:15:00Z 2014-07-19T14:47:06Z AL HAMNIK: Munster's Kindon Crowder realizes his dream at Ball StateAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 08, 2014 5:15 pm  • 

Kindon Crowder is basketball's Rocky. He's spent more time on the canvas than sweat and won't throw in the towel.

He can spell q-u-i-t but doesn't know the meaning.

Here's a page from his life: No, you can't. Yes, I can. I'll show you.

Kindon did it as a walk-on guard at Ball State and how he got there, how he beat the odds against him, is an inspirational story worthy of the Hallmark Channel.

He transferred to Munster High School after his freshman year at St. Francis de Sales in Chicago. He tried out for basketball at Munster, was cut, then spent three years as team manager.

"Our varsity was already established and his skill set didn't match with what we needed," Munster coach Mike Hackett recalled.

"I was a street baller, not a systematic player," Kindon said. "They had a great team and Coach Hackett had coached them since they were young."

Kindon then enrolled at Ball State, tried out, had no luck, and again served as team manager.

Midway through last season, he finally earned a spot as a practice player but never appeared in a real game.

The Cardinals went through a coaching change in the offseason and now Kindon Crowder had to impress the new guy, James Whitford, a former assistant at Arizona.

"He saw I was hard working and had a positive attitude," Kindon said. "That's always been me – hard working, optimistic and willing to do whatever it takes to get what I want."

The spindly kid who had taught himself to play basketball by watching college and NBA games wanted more than anything to "belong" at Ball State.

Rocky, I mean Kindon Crowder, accomplished that by becoming a full-fledged member of the team this season and had appeared in 16 games heading into the Mid-American Conference tournament.

He scored a career-high 10 points in 16 minutes against Eastern Michigan Feb. 12 and got his first start March 1 in the win over Central Michigan on senior day.

"We needed vocal leadership on the court, something our team was missing, and Kindon provides that," Whitford said. "He's an absolute winner and has outplayed some of the guys on scholarship."

All he needed was a chance and when he got it, he wrapped his arms around it and squeezed hard.

"It takes a special kid who knows he's pretty good in basketball, doesn't make the team, but still wants to stay around it," Hackett said. "I couldn't be happier for him."

Coaches and teammates think his presence is as refreshing as Gatorade. If only the Cardinals weren't 5-24 but, hey, no need getting greedy.

"Man, it's been like a dream come true. Every day, I'm thankful for the opportunity," said the 6-foot-2, 172-pound Crowder. "If you really want something, just fight for it.

"If you give up, you'll spend your life running away."

Kindon's parents, Terrance and LaTrisha, have their own personal ways – different as day and night – of treating their son's success.

"I love to see the look on my mom's face. She's very proud," Kindon said. "That's my No. 1 fan.

"My dad uses the word 'excited' instead of proud. He says once you tell someone you're proud of them, they stop working hard."

Whitford's favorite Kindon Crowder story concerned another guard he was going to suspend for disciplinary reasons. Kindon implored the coach to give the kid a second chance.

Kindon made such a compelling argument, Whitford changed his mind.

"If I had suspended the player, Kindon would've gotten more playing time," Whitford said. "But he put the team first, above his own personal interests."

Coach says he wishes he had No. 4 longer.

Better late than never, wouldn't you agree?

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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