Many things come to Kendrick Nunn’s mind when he hears the stereotypes that African American men are often absent fathers. The Miami Heat guard has the perspective of someone who was raised by a single Black father in Chicago and currently has full custody of his own young son.
“When I hear things like that … I honestly just think they haven’t been exposed to the good Black fathers out there that are actually taking care of responsibilities and taking care of their children,” Nunn told The Undefeated. “There are single Black fathers out there like that. And actually, the first thing that comes to mind is my dad.
“There are single fathers out there that’s doing good things.”
Nunn recently partnered with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to give a grant to the Dovetail Project, a nonprofit that helps men in the Chicago area who are single parents. Nunn donated $5,000 to the organization (which the NBPA matched) and serves as a mentor for other single fathers.
“I just wanted to tap into some things that I can relate to, honestly,” Nunn said. “First thing that came to mind was how I was raised by my dad.”
Nunn and his older sister, Kendyl, were raised by their father, Melvin Nunn, who eventually split up with their mother, Kimberly Harris. Nunn said his mother, who is now back in his life, dealt with depression which led to his father taking full custody of both kids.
“She was dealing with a lot of depression and things that didn’t allow her to be in my life early on,” Nunn said. “And that’s pretty much all I can say about that situation.
“But she’s doing great now. She’s a good mother. I love her to death. And she is definitely around now in my life and we’re happy. We’re happy together. We are a happy family now.”
Melvin Nunn raised his children while working full time as a delivery truck driver in Chicago. He said he had help from his family and Harris’ family, but was primarily on his own. He recalls often hearing a common word when someone learned he was a single parent: “Wow.”
“When I became a single parent, I didn’t bow my head or panic,” Melvin Nunn, 53, said. “I just knew what it took to raise two kids because I saw my parents raise me. You have to have things planned on how you want your kids raised and how you want them to become. So, I put them in situations where I could succeed with a little help from my family and their side of the family.
“I took everyone’s advice and got a little help along the way. With myself being a strong Black man and knowing what I had to do to raise my kids in my household, it was no-brainer. You got to work, you help your kids with homework, you talk to them, you extracurricular them. I was blessed to be able to do that with one income.”
The Nunn family had stability and lived in the same home for most of the kids’ childhood in the predominantly Black Chicago suburb of Calumet City. They often bonded over basketball. Nunn fondly recalls his father making time for him and his sister after work.