“One of the games he played he couldn’t get to me until 3 o’clock in the morning,” said Webster, 64, who is blind and has other medical conditions that require an aide. “I laid right there in bed and I waited. Just knowing that he’s out there doing what he loves, reaching for the highest of the heights, knowing that he’s working for tomorrow’s future in his life and the people around him and that he’s happy, that keeps me going.”
Despite Buckner’s violence-pocked childhood, or perhaps because of it, Webster said she could see in her Kenneth at an early age that he was unlikely to fall for the streets.
“You know how you can kind of see something within that child?” she said. “He was always interested in positive things. You could look and tell that there was something deep inside of him. It wasn’t easy for him. Nothing was easy for him. He said, ‘I know out there I have a plan for me and I’m going to find it.’ It’s like he knew. He watched everything through the eyes almost like an older person. I tell him when I grow up I’m going to be like him. He’s my idol.”
Buckner, who never seriously considered playing high school basketball, was a coordinated but unpolished baseball player who threw and batted left-handed and played first base. Former Wilson Coach Eddie Saah would try to find playing time for him, particularly against the weaker DCIAA competition. The Tigers were amid their running streak of 20 consecutive league titles, and Buckner’s skills were not as sharp as boys who had played a lot more baseball.
“[Kenny] Facebooked me the other day and said thanks for everything and that he was going to college,” Saah said. “I’m happy for him. [College] was a big accomplishment for him. He’s learning some things along the way about life, and he’s playing.”
Buckner had no parents to salute him as Boise State’s lone departing player on senior night, and his grandmother can only listen to his games with no sight to watch. Even so, he feels as fortunate as perhaps any player in the tournament and is on schedule to graduate in May with a degree in communications.
“God gave me another door that opened up and I played basketball,” he said. “He took two people out of my life that I don’t have anymore and he gave me the opportunity to do something else. It’s crazy every time I think from where I was at and now I’ve won a national championship in junior college and have that ring and now going to the NCAA tournament.
“I know [my parents] are up there happy with how my life turned out. I know they’re up there shining down and smiling on me. Everybody has a different hand of cards that they’re dealt. Mine played out different.”