Kenyatta Louder looks to make noise
Kenyatta Louder takes a contested shot with defender in front of him

Kenyatta Louder takes a contested shot with defender in front of him

Jesse Gonzalez 

SPORTS EDITOR

“If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you wanted, in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?” These lines start off Eminem’s Grammy-Award-Winning song “Lose Yourself,” This song shares the message that opportunities are disguised in many different ways, and you may never know where one chance may end up leading you. Third-year Forward Kenyatta Louder’s journey from his childhood to becoming the leading player for Whittier College’s Men’s Basketball team is one that he always reflects back on. Before talking, he takes a slight pause as he looks outside of a window inside my office. Then, Louder said, “I feel that God puts you in a place that he feels is the best spot for you, and I believe in that.”

After transferring from Rio Hondo College, he considers his first year at Whittier a success. After winning the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) player of the week on Jan. 28 and was named to All-SCIAC second-team it is easy to agree with him. Louder finished the 2018 – 19 basketball season, leading his team in points and rebounds. He averaged 16 points per game, shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from the three-point area. “[SCIAC player of the week] is an honor to be recognized among all the other players in the conference,” said Louder. “But, to be honest, I got snubbed for First-team All SCIAC in my opinion. I take that as motivation and I am coming for everything that I didn’t get this year – even conference Most Valuable Player.” 

Louder has his mind set for next year’s season. Louder put on a show at Dave Jacobs Court for the final home game of the regular season on Feb. 19 as a reminder that he is on the hunt and wants to make noise for next year’s teams to watch out. Scoring 41 points and 24 rebounds, Louder made sure to end the season on a high note. “[Going into the game], I was not stat chasing, but I wanted to lead the conference in rebounds. That was my goal for the game. I knew I had to get 15 rebounds to lead the conference,” said Louder. “I made my first basket, and then the basket just opened up and looked like an ocean.” Eight minutes into the game, Louder had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. “I turned to my teammate, [third-year] Jesus [Zesati], and told him I was going to get 40.” The crowd would erupt when he scored. “It was the second greatest performance I have witnessed live,” said second-year Whittier College Sports Network Broadcaster Eric Dutra. 

As the buzzer sounded, putting an end to the game and the season, Louder reflected on his journey as a child growing up from Compton to now, having his performance be top of the list in most points in a game for men’s basketball. Basketball was not the first sport he began playing; he started off playing on a baseball diamond at the age of nine; “I got tired of playing baseball. It was slow and boring to me. I liked playing [baseball], but watching [the games] was so slow,” said Louder. “I hit middle school, and I started playing basketball, and I just fell in love with it from there. I just love the game, and playing felt so good. It took me away from outside [activities] that I could be getting into.” 

One of Louder’s role models growing up was future Hall of Famer for the L.A. Lakers Kobe Bryant — and like every other kid, Louder focused on meeting the same work ethic as Bryant had. “I honestly felt like I work harder than a lot of people. I am in the gym every single day,” said Louder. “Even though his dad was in the pros, he still worked his tail off to be in the position he is in now. It was like watching Jesus play; that was the way I looked at [Bryant].” 

Louder also related to Bryant’s childhood struggles and feelings of isolation; he grew up in Compton with his mother, June Richardson, and four siblings. “I lost friends because of gun violence. I was at a young age, 13 or 14 years old. [You could be] somewhere at the wrong time and something [bad] happens,” said Louder. “I have seen friends go to jail. Basketball was my outlet; it is a city where it is either you’re playing basketball, you’re rapping, or you’re going to be in the streets.”

Everything has a dark side, but sometimes you just need to shine the light to see the good in things. “Compton really humbled me. It showed me that you could be doing [negative activities] or playing a sport,” said Louder.  “If I didn’t come from Compton, I feel like I wouldn’t be playing basketball. I feel that really pushed me to play, seeing other people not really doing anything with themselves. Seeing the struggles and not wanting to be like other people inspired me. Coming from Compton is a great thing.” 

Louder is in good company; many talented athletes and musicians, such as DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Serena and Venus Williams, and Kendrick Lamar have come from Compton. “My big inspiration for me growing up was DeRozan. I would watch every video of him from when he was in high school,” said Louder. “Seeing him when I was younger — and [now] he is in the National Basketball Association (NBA) — I thought I could do this too.”  

Playing basketball allowed Louder to travel to places outside of Compton. “Because of basketball,  I played on a travel ball and fell in love with traveling,” said Louder. “When you’re a kid in Compton, you’re not thinking about going anywhere. We’re not thinking about going to Palm Springs to play basketball in a tournament,” said Louder. “I do not think I would have left the city if I was not playing basketball. Even though it’s not far away, I enjoyed that.”  

Louder credits his family and his trainer, Herman Fenison, with pushing him to succeed. Fenison and Louder have continued to build their relationship since high school. Fenison’s constant training and preaching that Louder has the potential go to play overseas, and later in the NBA, continues to motivate him. “I would hear the praise from other people, but when it comes from somebody that is close to you, it opens up your eyes a lot more. The fact that he kept training me showed me that he really believed in me,” said Louder. “When that time comes and I’m playing professionally — whatever he wants, he got it. Without him, I would not be here.” 

Louder says his greatest role model is his mother. “My mom is my rock. She gave me the funds — and funded some of the things that I wanted to do, like traveling,” said Louder. “Moms just have that strength, even though they might not have played a sport. Seeing my mom come up with [funds] — she would have to work extra in order for me to do it. No matter what it took, she was going to try and make sure I had the chance to go. One day, I am going to pay her back.”