“Kentucky’s a good place to live, but I’d really like to get out there in a big old city and stuff like that. Once I get my money if I ever get in the NBA or something I can take care of my mom and my step-dad and my mamaw and my papaw.”
Xavier McClendon, Age 13; Harlan, Kentucky:
“I like to play basketball, football. I’ve played football before [but] I haven’t really tried out for basketball. [I like] football [better than basketball]. It’s just, I think, a fun sport and a lot of people play it and a lot of my friends do, too. And I also like some of the players.
I really like to go to the Boys and Girls Club. I’ve been waiting ever since I was six to come. They teach us to be really good. Ask us not to do drugs. The little kids like follow in bigger kids footsteps. Really, what I like about the Boys and Girls Club is Kendra, Katrina, and all them show me how to be so good to where I could be like a teen staff and show the kids what’s right and what’s wrong and all that.
The first day I came to the Boys and Girls Club, I was really happy and I went to the door like almost every day and asked is it my birthday yet and stuff? It’s pretty fun and it’s really cool to help out here and show the kids a lot of stuff. Some kids here, they want to be like Michael Jordan and Cam Newton and all and I show them how to play basketball and how to hold a football, show them how to throw it, shoot it, all that.
I was going to be like a teen staff, but I got in trouble a couple of years ago at school and they said they want a positive kid. What they want me to do is, they want me to be like a good kid at school and here, and at home and everywhere else. Well, one time there was this kid and he was bullying me and stuff so we got in a fight and it was going on for a while and he started cussing me out and stuff so me and him fought a couple of times.
I have two sisters, Alyssa is 14 and Alaina is 12. She had heart problems when she was a baby. Kyler and Kaleb, are my brothers. They are twins and they are 11. And then I have Elijah and Isaiah. Elijah is 18 right now, and Isaiah is about to be 16. All the boys are usually always gone to their friends and stuff. What I really like to do is go to my friends and play video games and stuff. Just spend the night, you know.
[Camping] is a lot of fun, but you can hear a lot of noises and stuff. Freaks you out. It just sounds like screeching and you can hear wolves and stuff. It’s just crazy. Yeah, sadly [I’ve seen a bear]. It was big. I don’t know if it was a black bear or a grizzly bear. It was kind of colored like your camera here, black, kind of like your hat. Me and my mom and my stepdad were going hiking and we saw it and it was really big. I’ve seen a deer, lots of ‘em, and I’ve seen some baby cubs, like cub bears and stuff. When we went on the Boys and Girls Club trip hiking and stuff, up there at Camp Blanton we saw a deer. They showed us how to start fires and clear water, boil it and stuff to where you can drink it when you’re in the wilderness.
My mom…she’s nice, she can cook. She’s another role model for me; shows me what’s right and what’s wrong. Sometimes she’ll be cooking, like, teriyaki chicken and sometimes Ramen noodles, and sometimes we eat Parmesan on top of chicken with marinara sauce on the side. It’s really good. It’s kind of hard, you know, to cook for like at least seven kids [laughs].
My step-dad is Kenneth Hopkins and he’s fun to hang out. He’s taken me fishing three times. He really doesn’t know how to go fishing though, so that’s why I usually try to go deer hunting with my friends or camping with my family.
My real dad, he lives in Ohio. They split up, now [Visiting dad in Ohio] It’s fun, he’s got a nice house. I’ve got a step-brother named Santee and also I have two other step-brothers that is Donovan and Noah McClendon. It’s kind of hard to keep up with all of them. There’s like twelve of them. He took us to Magic Mountain, and we just really have fun, because almost all of my family lives in Ohio.
What I really like about up there is where they’ve got bigger places and stuff. We went through Cincinnati and it was really big. We went over there and looked at the football field and stuff that they’ve got over there. It’s pretty cool. [
(What was your saddest time in your life?) When my step-dad Winston, he died. He was doing drugs and he just overdosed. I went to his funeral and I have a step-brother named Juwan and we both went there and we both cried. (What did you learn from that?) Not to do drugs.
Well, when I go out of school I want to go to college and I want to at least try my best where I can go to the NFL or the NBA. Either one.
Kentucky’s a good place to live, but I’d really like to get out there in a big old city and stuff like that. Once I get my money if I ever get in the NBA or something I can take care of my mom and my step-dad and my mamaw and my papaw.
My mamaw and my papaw they live right up the hill from here, Fairview, which is where we are. [Mamaw] has kept me in her house for a couple of years. My mom went back to Ohio one year and she stayed for a while and then we stayed at my mamaw’s and she got in a little bit of trouble. We were living with my mamaw for a couple of years. Until we bought this house, she was living with us. We really tried to get in bigger houses and stuff to where we could live in them, we were so used to having my mamaw and stuff, all of us were, and we stayed there with my mamaw even when she got the house. We’d go over there and spend the night with her sometimes and that’s when she met Winston and then a couple of years later he died.
[What’s special about your mamaw?] Where she took me in and took care of me till I was at least seven or six. She’s a good cook, too. What she does is she cuts up pieces of hamburger and throws some peppers in and spices it up and then and puts it…I don’t know what it’s called…is it like Manwich? And mixes it up and puts it like Sloppy Joes but with hamburger and peppers, red peppers and all these spices. It’s really good. What she really likes to make sometimes is macaroni, and I love it.
My papaw? He’s always showed me like stuff what not to do like my mamaw has, and he’s taken me out hunting before, showed me how to shoot guns, and stuff like that. He has a lot of guns and stuff. He has a rifle, a lot of BB guns and stuff. He has all kinds of them and he’s bought all kinds of rifles and stuff and he has showed me how to shoot them. When we first came with my papaw, he could walk and stuff, but his leg, where he was in Vietnam and he got shot right there and he wasn’t getting enough blood to it so they had to cut it off. I think it was Vietnam or something. He was in the Marines. He wasn’t a Navy Seal or nothing like that. So, yeah, he’s told me stories about it.
I bought this sniper game one time, and he’s [Papaw] like, ‘Xavier, you shouldn’t be playing, that’s not really a good game to play.’ I mean, it was kind of fun I guess, just kill people like terrorists and stuff. He said, ‘I don’t really like that game, we’re going to take it back tomorrow because the reason I don’t like snipers is because a sniper is the one that killed my brother when he was right next to me.’
That’s war. That made me feel sad, and I didn’t ever want to play a game like that again. What kind of games I play now? Now I don’t really play games, I just show my brothers how to play and watch them and stuff. If I ever do play anything, it’s football, basketball, baseball, soccer, sports-wise.”