By Ashleigh / Dec 13, 2020
K.L. Norwood couldn’t play football, but his friend, Max Akin, sure could. He sat on the sidelines of the field spurring on his best friend who happened to be the star quarterback of their school, Fossil Ridge Highschool.
It was that time for homecoming and it wasn’t a secret as to who many thought was going to be homecoming king. It would be Max Akin. But when it was time to name the king, K.L. was in for the biggest surprise of his life. Because of an amazing act of kindness, K.L.’s life would be different.
K.L And Max Akin
Max Akin was having the game of his life on this otherwise regular Texas night. He had made his team and his school proud by giving his team four touchdowns, a run for 60, and had thrown for over 200 yards.
Max was having one of the best games of his life, and his friend K.L. was there cheering him, which always brought a smile to his face. What nobody knew about was that the young quarterback still hadn’t made the most important play of the night.
Max Was The Popular One
After Max had started at Fossil Ridge High School he applied for the football team, he originally started out as a wide receiver but his amazing arm made his couch change him to a quarterback. Once he was in his senior year, he was the captain of the team.
Max not only had great talent when it came to playing football but he also had a huge heart and fun-loving personality – this made him one of the most likable and popular kids in the school. The candidates for homecoming king was Max and four other boys.
Homecoming Was A Night To Remember
Since it was homecoming the football game that was being played was one of the most important matches of the entire year. If you asked any of the students who they were all focused on during the game, they’d tell you it was Max.
While Max was poised and at the top of his game, ready to lead his team to victory, his friend K.L. smiled at him and gave him his support. K.L. was in for a surprise.
K.L. Norwood Was The Manager For A Reason
Kemper Louis Norwood is, by all means, a miracle. He was born premature and only weighed one pound, 13 ounces. The doctors told his parents some bad news.
They said that K.L. would probably lose most of his senses along with the ability to walk. They even told his parents that he could be taken off of life support if they didn’t want that life for him. His parents wanted their son to live a full life and decided to hive him a chance – K.L. always remembered that.
Cerebral Palsy Isn’t a Problem For K.L.
Soon after K.L. was born, the doctors diagnosed him with cerebral palsy. It stunts your physical development and affects your coordination, speech, and many other problems.
This condition meant that K.L. couldn’t play football with his friends the way he wanted to, he fell back and would cheer from the sidelines. Still, cerebral palsy wasn’t a problem for him and he would never let it get the better of him.
K.L.’s Senior Year
K.L. never let cerebral palsy affect the way he wanted to live his life, he was still loved by many in his school and had an influential opinion. A teacher at the school, Staci Murto, told reporters from Dallas Morning News, “You can tell everyone just loves him.”
Max also had some things to say the Dallas Morning News, saying, “Everybody in the school loves K.L. You see him walking down the hallway and he’s shaking at least 12 hands at a time.” K.L. wanted to help the team in any way he could even if he couldn’t directly play himself.
A Great Manager
Since K.L.’s favorite sport was football and his best friend played for the team, it made sense that he could help the most here. Once he got to his senior year, he applied for the Fossil Ridge equipment manager. It turns out that this was a great thing for K.L.
So before every practice or game, K.L. would be on the scene before anyone else, getting the team’s uniforms ready, filling up their water bottles, and making sure every single player was comfortable. For his loyalty, he was one of the nominees for homecoming king.
The Night Of Homecoming
At Fossil Ridge, homecoming is just as important as prom. When the day rolls around the corner, everybody has a smile on their face. The night sports lots of festivities, traditions, and the football game itself.
So the five students that were nominated had to create a video and explain why they were the best fit for homecoming king. Max had a lot going for him and could easily have explained why he deserved it, but he did something else entirely.
Supporting His Friend
Max explained in his video that every student should vote for the person he makes them smile the most, who is always there for them. He said if it was his decision, he’d choose K.L every time.
He went on further to say that no matter how bad your joke was, K.L was there to laugh at it and make you feel better. He explained that he was the most positive person at the school easily.
Repaying The Support
Homecoming king was announced during halftime, and no one was surprised when Max was given the title. K.L. felt that with all of his support he had a real chance of winning, so he was understandably disheartened. He still, however, showed all his support to his friend.
K.L. took some pictures of his best friend and said “It was really exciting. I knew he was going to win from the get-go, so I clapped for him,” But then he felt that Max was plotting something, he knew his friend all too well.
The Best Handoff Ever
Without warning anyone, once Max was finished with the photo being taken he turned on his heel towards K.L. and called him over. Once K.L. got up to him Max kneeled like he was his king.
Then with one shrewd motion, he was offering up his crown to his best friend. Max felt that the honor of homecoming king was only fit for K.L. When everyone noticed what Max was doing, they started applauding, it was easily Max’s best play while he was at the school.
The King Of The Night
Chants of “K.L!” echoed through Texas once the school’s most beloved pupil received the honor of homecoming king from Akin. This was truly an honor of a lifetime for K.L. His sadness immediately turned into pure bliss. Even the queen couldn’t keep her joy to herself.
“I thought it was the best hearing them chant K.L.’s name right after halftime,” Akin told a local television station. “And I know he liked that too. Everybody was going wild for him. Everybody loves K.L. at this school.
Letting It Sink In
When everyone in the crowd chanted K.L.’s name, all he could do was stand there and smile as he soaked up one incredible moment. “It was really nice of him to do that, and I’m actually glad he did but yes, it did surprise me,” K.L. said. “It made me really, really happy.”
After Akin came up from taking the knee without the crown on his head, he told K.L. he loved him as he embraced the new king. That was the biggest trick play of his career as a quarterback.
A Message From Max
Social media did its job and ended up having this heartfelt story picked up by the local media. “If you spread a little bit of love and compassion around, that’s all we really need and something lacking in today’s world- a little bit of positivity every once in a while,” Max said.
After the local news picked it up, the story made its way to the national level. It became so big that eventually Ellen Degeneres picked up the phone and called the boys…
The Ellen Show
One of the most popular daytime talk shows on TV has to be The Ellen Degeneres Show. Ellen is purely magical as she amuses the audience and all of her special guests. There is never any telling what she is going to ask or say next.
Some of her fans’ favorite segments are the ones that include everyday people doing extraordinary things. This is why K.L. and Akin made for the perfect guests to appear on this show.
From Texas To Cali
When ordinary citizens are the guest stars on Ellen’s show, she usually gifts them with some type of award. That can include cars, money, or charitable donations. Once the producers heard about K.L. and Akin’s touching story, it was only right they pay the gesture forward.
Three weeks after that fateful homecoming night, Ellen brought in the two high school kids to her set. She wanted to celebrate the kind act that was so inspiring to many.
Spreading The Love
Before the two students arrived on stage, Ellen told the audience the backstory to help them better understand. Ellen was blown away by the great gesture Akin did for his friend with CP, but Akin insisted the CP had little to do with his decision.
“I don’t see K.L. as a disabled person, I see him as a great human being. As a homecoming king, you should be able to make people happy and give good vibes all around the room, and K.L. never fails to do that,” Akin said.
The Golden Rule
Akin had achieved the platform to relay a more important message to the masses, and he did not misuse his chance to deliver to a national audience. In an honorable fashion, Akin said, “I think me and K.L. really want to get across the fact that, as corny as it may sound, you’ve got to treat everyone the way you want to be treated.”
He then said that if you ever had the chance to make somebody’s day, then you should not hesitate to take it. After he said this, the crowd erupted just like they did on the homecoming night.
Ellen Pays It Forward
As the show progressed and approached the end, Akin and K.L. were about to receive the ultimate gift. After they announced they would attend a college that fall, Ellen gave them each checks for $10,000 that they could use towards their education!
In true Ellen fashion, a production manager ran onto the stage with the huge checks in hand, prepared with Akin and K.L.’s names on them. “We need more people like you in the world,” Ellen told the duo.
Being Positive Is A Great Thing
“It was a whole bunch of great guys,” Akin said about the other candidates, “but I knew exactly who deserved the crown. As soon as I heard the nominees, I knew K.L. was the one who should get it.”
Sam Grajeda / Fossil Ridge High School Yearbook
Although K.L. didn’t officially win, his positive spirit and gracious attitude led to him winning anyway. This story is just another example of how being a genuinely good person can be a great thing in this world.