COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Some things transcend sports rivalries; a person’s health is usually one of them.
A few years ago, Kevin Holmes’ son Kavon tried out for a travel basketball team. His father believes he had the skill to be on the team, but for some reason wasn’t chosen.
That left them in a quandary. They wanted to keep Kavon playing ball, so they enrolled him in a recreational league with other kids his age.
Kavon’s coach turned out to be Tezlyn Reardon, a former college basketball player, who knows her stuff on the court.
Kevin was impressed by how she was teaching the kids how to play positions, unlike the way other male coaches ran things; which he says, is to let the kids just run up and down the court doing whatever they wanted.
Holmes wasn’t the only one impressed, Reardon was also impressed both with Kavon’s skill level and his father’s support. She remembers Holmes coming to practice to pick up Kavon, still dressed in his work uniform.
She also remembers him supporting her as the coach by telling his son that he needed to listen to what she was teaching him.
A few years have passed since they first met, and it was one evening when Reardon was going through her Facebook feed when she noticed a post shared from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend that caught her eye.
“I looked at it and I was like, I know this guy; and it was just a post that said Kevin needs a kidney,” said Reardon.
She didn’t know that Kevin has a hereditary condition that was leading to his kidneys failing.
Holmes says, may of his brothers and sisters have the condition. He found out he had it about 20 years ago and since then his kidney’s condition has steadily declined to only operating at 13%.
His doctor told him that waiting for a kidney from the dead donor list could take 5, 10, even 15 years, and it would be better if he found a live donor.
That’s what precipitated the original Facebook post.
It would turn out that Reardon and Holmes were a match for the donation, and after six months of testing the surgery was conducted in September.
At the time, when the atmosphere was tense at the hospital they would joke about being on opposite sides of the rivalry between the Ohio State University and the University of Michigan.
Reardon jokingly added that she wants him to wear an Ohio State t-shirt for one game this year or she will take back her kidney. Holmes was steadfast in his refusal to don the scarlet and gray.
They say, the joking helped lighten the mood.
This week, the good natured ribbing is back, as the two legendary programs go head to head once again, this time in Ann Arbor.
Holmes has invited Reardon to watch the game from his man cave decked out in maize and blue paraphernalia.
The pair met with me there to talk about their journey.
“Ohio State is playing Michigan at Michigan, so we have to watch the game at “Michigan”,” explained Holmes as we sat down to get started with our conversation.
“I haven’t agreed to that part yet,” Reardon fired back, with a deadpan humor.
Ultimately, they did come to agreement on another matter; something guided their paths together.
Call it fate, a higher power, or something else, at the end of the day a single decision opened the door to making that happen; the cutting of Kevon from the travel team.
“It was meant for [Kevon] not to make that team even though he was at a level to be on that team, God already had it planned for him not to make it so we could meet Tezlyn,” said Holmes.
“I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason and I felt like there is a reason why I found that post that night,” said Reardon.
“The prayers that his family was sending for me, his church family, their church family, like I could feel that,” said Reardon. “I could feel that everything was going to be okay and that I was doing the right thing.”
So, I asked them if they thought God has a plan for Saturday.
“Yes,” said Holmes immediately.
Tezlyn quickly declared, “God is a Buckeye fan.”
“God is always in control,” added Holmes. “He made sure the game was played in Ann Arbor.”
Both of them began to laugh.
We’ll see who gets the last laugh this weekend.