Kevin Lamor Carter
aka “Chairs” “Pellet” “Frank” depending on how you knew him or where you met him.
6-27-77 Bridgeport, Connecticut
6-28-16 Louisville, Kentucky
Kevin and I met on Friday, December 4, 1998. I remember the date so clearly, because I went to Atlanta with my friend Tajuana for Thanksgiving. We partied so hard that I had to stay in my apartment all week to recuperate. I decided to get out that Friday and hang with my girl Tonya. She told me her friend was coming over and he was bringing a friend. They pulled up in a white Dodge Caravan. I sat behind the passenger and Tonya sat behind the driver, a dude named Jermaine.
Kevin, who introduced himself as “Phrank” asked my name and where I was from. I told him I was a student at Indiana Tech and I was from Detroit. I picked up on his East coast accent right away and was turned on by his swag. I didn’t vibe with the Indiana boys that much being a city girl. Kevin asked me how long I would be in Fort Wayne, and I replied with a Foxy Brown rap lyric from Jay Z’s Paper Chase “Til May down this ____.” In reality I was supposed to finish my Engineering degree in May ’99, but I put off my senior project second semester.
We made our way to the store and when we got back to Tonya’s house, Kevin told us to go inside and he would be there in a minute. It was taking a while, so Tonya and I stood on the porch to see what the problem was. That’s when I saw Jermaine bringing a wheelchair around to the passenger side. I got all dramatic and was like, “Girl what happened to him? Why is he in a wheelchair? Is he in a gang?” Tonya was like, “I don’t know, I don’t know,” in her Southern accent.
Jermaine pulled Kevin up the steps and we all sat around and talked and had drinks. Some other people stopped by, and we partied like normal college kids. Kevin did what most Indiana corn balls were lacking. He asked me on a date. We made plans for dinner and a movie. It turned out the van was his. I was nervous about who was going to drive and how independent he was. None of that was an issue. Kevin refused to use hand controls and drove with a t-ball bat instead. To this day, he is one of the safest drivers I know. We ate at Applebee’s and I don’t recall the movie we saw.
From that point, it was on and poppin’. I called my Mom and told her I was not coming home for Christmas Break. Kevin took me to his hometown of Bridgeport, CT where I met his father’s side of the family. Of course, we went to New York and I was blown away by the City.
Harlem and Manhattan
Kevin lived with his mother, Pearlie, her husband, his younger siblings, and nieces and nephews. His older sister Janice was murdered in 1995 in Fort Wayne, so his mom was raising her children. Kevin went to Janice’s funeral in ’95 and it was 2-3 weeks later that he suffered a spinal cord injury which gave him a T-6 paralysis. He was only 16 and a 6 foot 5 basketball star at his high school. Kevin would often point out UConn players on TV who he played against.
Kevin Carter and Harrison Carter
Kevin Carter Bridgeport, CT
Kevin Carter and Sister Aime
Complications from being bedridden and depressed made him develop blood clots. His legs were amputated above the knee. He told me it was easier for him to lose the dead weight. The next issue became the muscle spasms. His legs would spasm so badly that they would cross over. I remember pushing down on his legs to try and keep them flat. On those tender spots is where he developed skin ulcers.
Kevin with his Grandma Era Sparks and Father Frank Sparks
Kevin’s Dad, Frank Sparks
Kevin and I moved into together the summer of 1999. Our apartment was laid because he and I both have good taste in fashion and style period. Kevin had numerous surgeries to skin graft bed sores and treat infections. Kevin was still in good spirits. He loved video games, music, good food, movies and going to Detroit for corned beef and Bridgeport for pizza.
Kelsie Summer ’99 East Central Towers, Fort Wayne, IN
I finally graduated in May 2000. Kevin and I lived in Fort Wayne until September 2001. We both felt like we had outgrown the city and it was time to move on. I went back home trying to figure my life out, and Kevin moved back to Bridgeport, CT. Distance could not keep us apart and before I knew it, I called myself moving to Bridgeport. It was right after 9/11 and I remember driving through NYC and seeing missing people flyers all over the place. The smell of flesh was in the air from the 9/11 attacks.
Photo taken by Kevin as he was recovering from a surgery in a rehab center in Fort Wayne, IN.
Winter came and no engineering companies were responding to my resume. I drove back to Detroit. At the same time, Kevin’s mom Pearlie and her husband left Fort Wayne, moved to Indianapolis, and finally settled in Louisville. Kevin and I would meet up in Louisville quite often. I experienced my first Kentucky Derby cruising in 2002. I went back to Detroit telling everyone how live Louisville was. It was pretty wild back then before police started shutting down Broadway.
Holiday World Wave Pool in Santa Claus, Indiana, Kirk (Willie), Janai, Kelsie, Kevin.
Sadly, Kevin’s mom passed away on Memorial Day 2002 and he was crushed. He flew into Detroit and we drove down to Louisville together. Kevin was so broken and until his dying day he took her birthday, Memorial Day and Mother’s Day very hard. I was extra sensitive to him around those days. This past Memorial Day is when we went for rides on the Can Ams. It lifted his spirit.
We both took time to learn ourselves a few years after Pearlie’s sudden passing. Those 20’s can be something else! Kevin and I went through a lot, but always found a way back to each other. His health was pretty stable besides a dehydration or minor infection bout which would put him on IVs for a few days.
After I completed my Master’s Degree in Education, I relocated to Louisville with Kevin. I picked out a gorgeous halo set diamond from Shane Co. Our plan was to get married on 7-7-7. The day came and went and we looked at each other like “you didn’t plan anything and I didn’t either.” We talked about getting hitched in Hawaii and I was like why spend all that money. Both of our families and friends are all over the U.S. and buying a home was more important.
My name became Kelsie Carter on November 24, 2007 in a Justice of Peace ceremony at our apartment’s clubhouse at Blankenbaker Crossing. I wore a non-traditional dress with a white fox fur. Less than 6 months later we purchased a home in PRP and were living the dream.
Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Carter in 2008
Next up was babies. Kevin got some news that was hard to swallow, but we still decided to move forward with in vitro fertilization. We did two rounds which both failed. It was a major let down for both of us. Things began falling apart with our marriage. We separated in 2009 and divorced in 2010.
Kevin outside of his other favorite restaurant Ichiban.
I covered up his Kevin tattoo on my wrist with some flowers and kept the K. As I type this, I glanced to see the “evin” which I’m now glad was not completely covered. Everyone thought I was going to move back to Detroit and he would go back to Connecticut. They had us messed up. We love the warmer weather and quality of life in Kentucky. We both bloomed where we were planted and he ventured towards the Lexington and Richmond area.
Last summer, Kevin told me to write my name on a sheet of paper. A of couple days later my signature was tatted under a Queen Chess Piece.
I deactivated my Facebook and got into running seriously. I also became a therapeutic foster parent. I was tracking workouts on Daily mile, and Kevin would try to comment on my posts. I was deleting them and blocking him as I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon in 2013. I was still dealing with some anger of our divorce.
I had to make sure my mind was right before I hooked back up with Kevin. My Mom and I went to a Colts vs. Bengals game on October 19, 2014. I made a blog post and low and behold Kevin made a comment. Being the site administrator I was able to see his URL and email info. I decided it would be best to contact him privately before we interacted publicly.
I poured my heart out to Kevin and told him all was forgiven. I gave a stern warning to not post anything crazy on my blog. Kevin emailed back thanking me for making him the man he was and apologizing for his wrongs. The topper was the fact that Kevin Carter was at Lucas Oil Stadium for the same game and saw me and my Mom! He was too nervous to approach me.
We left the correspondence at that and he gave me a hard time about reppin’ the Bengals because I was a Colts fan with him. I do confess I always wished they loss after we broke up.
I reached out to Kevin when my nephew, Lil’ Jay was murdered in Killeen, TX. Kevin knows my entire family and how close we are. He was hurt at the news of this tragedy. Up until this point Kevin and I only communicated via email and maybe a text. The day of Lil’ Jay’s funeral Kevin and I talked for 5 hours straight getting caught up. He took me to our favorite restaurant, Ruth’s Chris after I got back to Louisville. He came fresh to def with his Ralph Lauren and Polo Black cologne to match. That boy hadn’t missed a beat.
For the next year and a half, we grew to become Best Friends. We did a lot of traveling. He was the behind the scenes guy. He knows how protective I am over KelsieLou.com content. This is my legacy, and I don’t let just anybody get a photo, let alone a name mentioned up in here.
Kevin was flattered to see his photos on my blog. Even when he would get on my nerves, I never had the urge to delete any of his content. Kevin is my family whenever anybody gets done with it.
Anyone who knew Kevin recognized that he made a huge to-do about his birthday every year. He celebrated the entire month of June. I knew not to ask him for anything during that time. For 2016, Kevin and his friend Steve were planning on hauling their bikes up to Bridgeport for a week or two. Kevin was so excited about going home to see his family.
Tez, Steve, and Chairs. The realest of the real.
At the same time I was noticing that Kevin was looking very thin. He was in the hospital a couple months ago for what he told me was dehydration. He did mention having kidney disease, and I told him he could have one of mine if it came down to it.
On June 3rd, LeeAnna and I met him in Lexington for lunch at BD’s Mongolian Grill. Kevin had a meaningful conversation with the both of us. We sat and talked for three hours and ended up tipping twice due to shift change. I noticed that Kevin only ate a few bites of food. Being the gentleman he is, he followed me to the gas station and filled up my car before LeeAnna and I drove back to the Ville.
Kevin settled for the Charger R/T after wanting a Camaro which I told him was not practical for the wheelchair storage.
Something that stood out to me in the last few weeks is how complimentary Kevin had been towards me. He told me on several occasions how proud he was of me as a foster parent and new homeowner. He showed major love as a friend.
Kevin Carter living life to the fullest.
Kevin called me on Thursday, June 9th with a weak voice saying he was going to the hospital in an ambulance. I asked was there anything he needed me to do. He had given me a key to his place back in January, so it was nothing for me to make sure his things were in order. I told Kevin to call and let me know what the doctors said. He was just at his family physician the day before complaining of loss of appetite and severe back pain.
I woke up the morning of the Muhammad Ali funeral service and I did not have any calls or texts from Kevin. At 6:20 a.m. I asked how he was feeling. He replied back “better” that evening when I had made it up to Milwaukee. I didn’t hear from Kevin the entire weekend which wasn’t that odd due to him not feeling well.
That Sunday is when the ICU nurse dropped a bomb on me that Kevin was very sick. I was at his side the next morning. The doctor explained he had severe blood infection that the strongest antibiotic was not helping. There was issues with his intestines, and his red blood cell count was dangerously low. The doctor asked was he having difficulty breathing and he said yes. She made the decision to place him on a ventilator. I was worried and nauseated by the prognosis. I’ve been with him through several surgeries and even wearing a protective suit to see him, but a ventilator? Nah, this was all new. I wanted to pass out in that ICU room but I couldn’t let him see me break. I did start to tear up a little and he told me “don’t start that @$#%.” Like a little kid, I got my act together real quick.
Kevin told me he loved me four times and kissed me on the lips. I was kicked out the room as they went to sedate him and hook up to the vent. All this happened Monday, June 13. Kevin endured two rounds of dialysis that week, and it helped his kidney function a little better. The surgeon saw the problem with his intestines through a dye test, but Kevin would not have survived the procedure.
They took Kevin off the propofol and he was more alert, although he could not talk being hooked up to the vent. He gave me a high five when I told him about the Gold Jacket 5k and how I got won 1st place overall female for him. He kept touching the ring medal. I wanted to leave it with him, but I was afraid it would get misplaced.
I didn’t visit him directly on his birthday, Monday June 27th. He had a room full of people and I knew he needed some rest. Instead, I sent some texts to his friend Tez who let Kevin read them.
I went to see Kevin on Tuesday afternoon and I saw a drastic change from two days prior. I could look into his eyes and see that he was tired. Kevin had fought all he could. He was in pain. I later learned from a nurse associate from my old job, that Kevin refused treatment that morning. He refused to have a tracheostomy. Kevin made the decision to be off of everything. It was all in his favor. He made the choices himself.
I didn’t know those were Kevin’s decisions when word got to me that they were pulling the plug about an hour after I had left the hospital. I was hysterical thinking someone else was making those decisions, but that wasn’t the case. I told Kevin’s friend that he wasn’t going to make it through the night.
Around 9:30 p.m. I was feeling antsy. My foster daughters joined me for a late night walk. I was breaking down knowing that the end was near. I started to go back up there, however, I didn’t not want to remember Kevin dying. I wanted to remember our positive interactions with one another. His friend who was delivering the text messages for me called and said he had just left the room. I was talking to Tez when he got the text that said “He’s Gone.”
I sat on my deck and looked up and the starry heavens and told my baby goodbye. Kevin suffered through so much trauma, yet and still he hardly ever complained and lived his life to the fullest. Kevin Lamor Carter taught me how to love myself, how to be kind to others and the true meaning of patience. There will always be a place in my heart for my ultimate soul mate. His memory and legacy live on through my actions in this world and the actions of those who he touched. Whether you were his nurse, waitress, friend or family, he treated everyone the same.
Collage by Steve
Kevin had a low tolerance for slackers. He would get on you for not living to your potential and gaining the most out of life. His smile was infectious. Kevin loved to eat good so there was no going hungry around him. When we reconnected last year one of the first things he told me was he needed to fatten me up. With running I am not able to hold weight like those thick days that he liked. Kevin fattened me up with love, friendship, loyalty and life.
Vegas Helicopter Ride with landing in the Grand Canyon Birthday gift to Kevin.
I love you ALWAYS Kevin Carter! You mentioned in those emails we exchanged about “love is love from this lifetime to the next.” I cherish those words because I know we shall meet again. You sent me a sign the other night that you are OK and you were checking on me. Although you are gone in the physical, your spirit lives forever in our hearts!
Kevin and Kelsie Kentucky Oaks 2015
(I thought this was going to be a teary eyed blog post and surprising I was able to tackle it with dry eyes. Let me be a witness for any and everyone who has lost a loved one that you must stay strong and lean on God, friends and family for support. Birth and death are cycles of life. The hardest part for me is knowing what Kevin is doing in heaven. I’m not in a rush to find out as I know God is still working on me. My engineering mind is curious to know all the answers. I can’t help it. J)
Rest in Heaven My Love,
Kelsie Louise Smoot