WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Former professional soccer player, and D.C. native, Shawn Kuykendall passed away at the age of 32 early Wednesday morning, after an honorable bout with Thymic Carcinoma — a rare form of cancer discovered in his chest last July.
Despite doctors learning of his illness, only after the cancer had already progressed to Stage IV, Kuykendall remained upbeat throughout treatment (just take one look through his Instagram account), and fiercely devoted to his religious beliefs — often writing the refrain of “Praise Be to God” in a personal journal he kept throughout the chemo process.
More importantly, Kuykendall was beloved by the community, his friends, and seemingly everyone he came in contact with throughout a life which included a soccer career playing for American University, D.C. United (drafted in 2005) and the New York Red Bulls.
Some of his fans included D.C. radio hosts, The Junkies, a show of which he was also a fan and loyal listener.
The Junkies remembered Shawn on the air Wednesday morning, recalling a particular stretch when he had joined their adult men’s indoor soccer team for a few consecutive years in the late 2000’s, after his professional career had concluded.
“We knew, when we had Shawn on our team, we were gonna win!” EB said elated. “We won like two or three Montgomery County championships!”
“Would he dominate the games?” Lurch asked.
“DOMINATE, Jason! Dominate the games,” EB said. “We would be shorthanded – we might have nine people – but as long as we had Shawn, we knew we were probably gonna win.”
“I mean, you had a ringer,” Lurch said.
“We had the biggest ringer in the history of co-ed soccer,” EB said.
Kuykendall, as JP, another show host, would explain, had approached the Junkies about playing on their rec team after they’d solicited for extra female players on the radio.
“He came up to me, he said, ‘Hey, I’m Shawn. I heard you guys were looking for chicks on your soccer team,’” JP recalled. “And he’s like, ‘Here’s my friend [blah, blah, blah].’ I think she ultimately played with us for one season, and then Shawn throws in, ‘You know, I wouldn’t mind playing with you guys.’ I was like, it’s a co-ed team … we’re a bunch of nubbers.”
“But beyond his talent and his ability on the soccer field, I honestly have never met a more fun-loving, positive guy – always that guy that would make you laugh,” EB went on to say.
“Very charismatic,” JP agreed.
“He was doing the sock bit ten years before RGIII was doing the sock bit,” EB said. “This guy played professional soccer; he’d show up with like Argyle dress socks!”
“Here’s the thing that really touched you,” EB said. “He’s one of the most spiritual guys you’d ever meet. He kept positive — he refused to say ‘Why me?’ – and it’s hard for me to talk about him without breaking up.”
“All I can say – and my voice is quivering – is hug your loved ones,” he said. “Tell ‘em that you love ‘em and try to bring the positiveness and that spiritualness to your life.”
The Junkies clearly will remember Shawn fondly, and by comparison, they had clearly left their mark on his life as well.
Without comment, check out these excerpts from an article written by a friend to Shawn, Mike Foss, for USA Today’s “For The Win” blog this morning:
“If you stop by Shawn’s parents’ house, you’ll see Lampard’s No. 8 jersey next to their son’s No. 28. If you ever asked Shawn about how he got Lampard to trade, he would smile ear-to-ear and with a signature wink say:
“Greatest play of my career. So bazilly.”
“We sat in silence for a moment. I mean, how do you follow up a thought like that? Well, if you’re Shawn …
“But seriously, can we talk about Liverpool’s buildup play? Four passes to get up the field and a shot on goal. Four passes!? Bazilly.”
Listen to the Junkies remember Shawn in the audio clip above.
Here’s a story which aired on All-News 99.1 WNEW, using clips from the Junkies.