I was born on Jan. 12, 1970 to John and Phyllis Kellum in Chicago, IL. Not long after my parents moved from 71st and Green to 113th and Normal in the Roseland/Sheldon Heights communities on the southside. We affectionately called it the “Wild 100’s” as during that time with most communities in Chicago, the spread of gangs and drugs began to grow. Our community was a block club community and we enjoyed summer events, with my Dad being one of the block club captains. We also had a lot of skilled ballplayers in several sports including Football, Baseball and Basketball. Football and Baseball were the dominant sports for us youth because we had the likes of Walter Payton influencing us and everyone wanted to be like Walter. We all played baseball in various youth leagues including Roseland, Jackie Robinson West and my league, Foster Park. Our home field was Palmer Park, but some of the greatest battles took place on our Elementary school playground Thomas Brennan. There we played Strikeout and full games with rubber coated baseballs. Basketball wasn’t as popular back then as it is now, but it would soon take over when Michael Jordan joined the Bulls.
We attended Lilydale First Baptist Church, located on 113th and Union, where I was baptized and eventually ordained into ministry. The church was essential in our household with my Dad being a Deacon and we were very active weekly whether it was choir, BTU, Sunday School, Boy Scouts, etc. After elementary school, I attended Lindblom Technical High School. It was not my first choice, being that Lindblom at the time wasn’t known for athletics. I wanted to attend Simeon, where a number of my teammates and former competitors were playing baseball, but another influential teacher was trying to get me to go to Julian and Lindblom. My mother made the final decision and the rest they say is history. At Lindblom, I struggled academically even at first because I didn’t take it seriously. It wasn’t until I became ineligible to play baseball by none other than the Coach that I buckled down. I didn’t miss another season and was one of the only athletes to play Varsity as a Sophomore in 2 sports-Football and Baseball. One of our biggest highlights was making it to the quarterfinals of the Public League playoffs (best since 1981) and making All-Area Selection for both sports.
I also participated in several groups including Drama Club, Letterman’s Club, French Club, Commercial Art, and Cooperative Work Training. My biggest transition was pledging to be a member of Crunch Bunch, a brotherhood that continues 40 years later. Social Clubs were an integral part of the Lindblom experience and many lifelong relationships were built over groups.
After Graduation, I received a Football scholarship to attend Iowa Wesleyan University in Mt. Pleasant, IA. There I started as a freshman and played on one of the worst teams of my career. During my time there, one of the most tragic events in my young life occurred when my oldest Brother died. It didn’t work out and after finishing the semester, I transferred to Prairie State college for a semester, before eventually transferring to Alabama A&M University. It was at Alabama A&M Univ. that I matured the most and had a true social awakening as to what the African-American experience was really all about. Everything from our focus on culture, black excellence, professors that cared about success and others were the main influences. During my time at Alabama A&M, the Rodney King beating took place. The students and university marched for rights and I became socially active in causes that still guide me today. I also excelled at my 2 favorite sports again and assisted the Baseball team to win its first championship since 1970.
Much of what occurred at my HBCU led me to look at my career path differently, and now 26 years later, I have been an Entrepreneur.