The Hidden Talent of Kahlil Dukes

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July Is For Kris: My Autobiography of June


After everything I’ve been through all year from training, to school, to games, to procrastination through what should’ve been sleep hours but I was too excited about my future to go to bed, to patience, to now, I hadn’t slept as much as I may have wanted too, or should have. My school let out on May 31st and I wouldn’t be having another tournament until live period in July so I told myself that I’d spend the month of June just relaxing more, sleeping more, but working just as hard as I have all year. This got difficult for me because after April’s live period, I got use to a lot of attention. But now, during this month, I was forcing myself to spend time alone like I did last fall. This meant more days and nights alone, procrastinating, thinking, seeing the future, beats blasting, with my body at peace. However, I hadn’t been in this world since the fall, and life had changed after the USC offer so it took me a while to grow back accustomed to this part of the ritual and work ethic. After all, I’ve been here before. I really appreciated everyone’s feedback on the writing of my work ethic. I was surprised at how many people it helped, let alone inspired. It surprised me because it’s only the story of this year, not my full story. But I mean, I did do something special this year, many more things to come. But I really saw the love I was getting, grow and grow. Didn’t receive a lot of hate, which I also loved, but it made it difficult to stay humble. The only things keeping me humble was me forcibly and people who said I needed to do this and needed to do that, and didn’t know anything about me or what I had. But my object was to stay grounded and keep working. This month wasn’t working out everyday, I was working out when I had the chance too, from the gym to the track, and if I couldn’t get to either one of those, I was watching film from April. I found watching film important because I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I made during the April live period, in July’s live period. I figured if I fixed them, I’d look that much better. This was also a part of my work ethic; no gym and no track meant a rested body and film. So no days off was still an expectation that I continuously had for myself. I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to get content. I didn’t want to be satisfied. I didn’t want to do anything but experience the feeling that that USC offer gave me, more.
And I think this month, I put in the training and got the rest that I needed, to do that. Prayer hasn’t changed. Every night I pray. And if I forget to pray one night, I pray twice the next night. I kept God’s faith through all, because I remember where I came from and how I got here. And I trusted him more and more so I hadn’t stressed anything all year or this month. I just was certain of my future. And that’s something special, a special belief that God gave me and that training gave me. The NCAA rules stated that on June 15th, D1 schools can contact players they’re recruiting unlimitedly. So I was looking forward to that day. Not sure if my followers noticed but I tweet a lot more, the more I’m alone. Especially after workouts so I was tweeting once or twice everyday. A lot of retweeting as well due to the love, which I don’t mind. What bugs me is when people ask me to follow them back. I only follow people who will keep me level headed. For example, I follow Aquille Carr, Kasey Hill, and Brandon Jennings. Why? Because they all have something, I train hard for and want. Aquille has been retweeting a lot this month so anyone who follows him has had a full Twitter log due to him. Me, however, I loved it. Not because it was all about him, but because it was love he received from people around the country who respected him, admired him, and looked up to him. “I want that love”, I thought. And I know one say I’ll get it, but that’s why I follow him, he has what I don’t have. I have love, but not love where I can retweet hundreds of tweets of people mentioning me and how much they admired me. One day though. But I love it, he keeps me level headed. I don’t know him personally but I know he works hard for everything he has gotten and I respect him and I admire him just as much as ANYONE. Aquille actually may be my biggest admiration in my class because he’s smaller than me and can do everything I haven’t proved I can do, yet. He doesn’t know me or anything but I know God will introduce me to him one day whether on the court or off the court.
Kasey Hill, who I’m actually close with, is another person I follow on twitter because he’s the most humble person I know. His first tweet everyday is “Thank you GOD” and he never tweets about the game, or anything basketball success related. He just shows his followers the off the court side of him. And I love that because it shows me that I can be myself when the lights are off. Whenever I need him, he’s there for me. Whether its advice or just to see wassup, I can count on him, and I love him for that. Brandon Jennings, who we know plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, who I also follow, is the opposite. He trains very hard, however he expresses his confidence and speaks what’s on his mind. He’ll tweet something like “I’m going to get buckets in NYC and Baltimore this summer, just give me a jersey” and then next thing I know he’ll be on YouTube on Hoopmixtape or something just killing in NYC or Baltimore. And I admired that. And he also his himself. These are just 3 of nearly 30 people I follow. So when people ask me to follow them back and I don’t reply or don’t follow back, just know that it’s not nothing personal, I just want to keep my head leveled and I just don’t think random everyday activity tweets can help me do that. However, there will be a day where I decide to follow back people whenever they ask. I just haven’t decided when yet. Probably this fall, when I’m past this recruitment stuff and can just focus on winning this state title my senior year at school and enjoying myself. I mean, I love people. And I want everybody to love me, so I know eventually I’ll have to do that. I just thank everyone for their support. I’ve been helping and giving back as much as possible. Whenever people ask me for advice or an opinion on something, I give them the best of me and I’m as honest as possible. I know who Kris Dunn was to me, and I was blessed to have him. God gave me other blessings as well, like helping people and being there for them, always knowing what to say, when to say it, and things like that so I just try to do what I think he wants me to do. And that’s helping other people accomplish things. I’ve always done that, but I did a lot more of it this month of June because I had more time too. If I can be who Kris was too me to other people, you bet I will every single time, whenever they need me. I mean I know some people want to be closer to me than I may want, but that all comes with the territory. I can’t please everybody but I can come close, I strive to. If I have friends that seem to become selfish or annoying then I stop speaking to them. Not because I don’t love them but because ever since April, it’s been difficult for me to trust people. So I’m more sensitive with who’s in my life and why. The slightest bit of selfishness or misunderstanding of me could get you kicked out of my personal life. I’m too nice to kick someone out of my life forever, but my personal life, I’m not so soft on. And this month, that happened a lot too. It’s just been a long journey, of limited sleep, and I just want to sleep as good as possible knowing people love me, support me, appreciate me, admire me, trust me, and that I can trust myself. It makes my life easier, and it’s also apart of my work ethic because it helps me remain focus. Every decision I make, every choice, everything I do and the way I act, correlates back to my work ethic. I’m resting and sleeping so my body can perform 110% in July. I spend time alone so that my mind remains on the future. I listen to my beats to break silence and irrelevant noises that don’t pertain to me. I tweet only the thought of my work ethic, to share with others who follow me. I stay in the house to stay away from distractions and the worlds “wrong place at the wrong time” incidents because if I’m home, I’m never in the wrong place. This also keeps me away from the wrong people, parties, drinking, bad influences, everything else. I do nothing I shouldn’t do. All my female friends are friends who I’ve known for years, that I can trust, that knows my story, that believes in me, that loves me, and that supports me to the max and would never do ANYTHING to stop my future that I procrastinate so hard about, from happening. If they act up on me then I must ignore them. With that being said, there’s only a hand count of them. And that’s how I like it.
Every male friend in my life, all my boys, don’t put me on a pedestal. They let me be myself, and they believe in me, support me, and are there whenever I need them. And so this month of June, the word “friends” played a huge role due to how much time I spent alone. The key for me was to make smart decisions, and no matter what remain focused. And with God and my ritual, I was able to do that all month.
After I dropped the piece: “Self Evaluation: The Work Ethic”, I think many people respected me more and understand how I got everything I have. It told everything and explained why I do the things I do and act the way I act. What bothered me was, some of my friends couldn’t understand it and if they can’t understand that, then they can’t understand me. And I understand me very well, it’s just God I don’t understand sometimes. I always thank him for challenging me, giving me obstacles, and making me better everyday but that doesn’t mean I appreciate figuring them out. I love him for it though. Without them, I’d probably be cocky and over confident. With them, I’m able to remain humble and feel like I haven’t done anything yet. And I have, but I haven’t. The goal is to make it to the league, the USC offer and everything else that put a smile on my face this year was just me moving one step closer. The ritual has it’s moments though. Where I feel alone. And technically I am, although few people are willing to help me for no cost. This month made me more appreciative, more quite, more grateful, but I grew less happy. I knew the best was yet to come. I’ve been here before, in the dark, alone. I knew what was next, July. And I knew what was coming, I know what is coming my way. I just hope it’s better than last time, because I don’t want to have to compare these moments of triumph. They’re the best moments of my life thus far. All the training, time spent alone, sacrificing, dedication, hard work, day after day in the gym for a year straight (4 off days), praying every night, and several mental challenges of the little but big things, all was worth it.


Yes I know I’m gonna kill Vegas
I trained for it all year
I have no other choice, or option
I trust my training so I’m confident that I’ll kill it
And God loves me

So I should have no worries, right?

I felt that my insecurity was immature of me, and that his challenge was to see how I would react to not working out every single day or consistently.

I worked around his challenge; watching more film, sleeping more, spending time with people who care about me and support me, resting my body, and just going pushing relentlessly whenever I can’t upon a workout of any sort.

Yes days without workouts killed me inside. However, the film study kept me into the game and improving so a day off was never had.
Also I never lost focus
My past, July, recruitment, my senior year, and my story had been on my mind and never left. So I was still mentally preparing and envisioning the images of my future from Vegas and beyond, every night and all day.

God really does love me

And this month I just feel like I’m at a stage in my life where, I know how he works

And he’s measuring my success by not only how I handle being comfortable, but how I handle controversy. And I killed it.

So I know, him and I are going to kill July. Together.

I knew that, but his challenge, I wasn’t so sure about.

And it continued to eat me, alive.

INTRODUCTION: The Conversation

ME: Yo, has God ever kept you out of the gym for a reason you couldn’t grasp? He’s done it to me randomly this month, and it’s worrying me
Yet, I’ve trained too hard and I trust him and my training too much to feel like I can’t sleep all June and go kill these niggas in July
It’s just always this little voice inside of me that’s worried that whatever God is doing, isn’t right because I’ve been in the gym the entire year
Is he resting me?
Is he testing me?
Has he ever done this to you?
What is he doing bro?
I’m scared, and I know I shouldn’t worry up to now, but I’m young

KRIS DUNN: Dawg living in the gym is a good thing but ur still a kid and u gotta have some fun time, u dont wanna over work yah self nah mean

ME: F**k fun time, this is my life right here
Maybe that is his test, to see if I’ll enjoy life away from the gym
But I can’t because I feel guilty every time
All I can think of is someone working harder than me or myself coming up short
That’s what drives me
Not having fun, my gym time is me having fun!
I grew accustomed to that
Now that he’s taking me away from it to see how I’ll react, I’m just depressed and worried
I don’t wanna be forced into anything unrelated to making it
I’m not like you bro I don’t have siblings or a dad
My work ethic is IT
Why is he taking that away from me one month away from my last dance?
I killed April, and I’ma EAT July up like its Popeyes!
But I don’t wanna be limited ya know, it hurts

KRIS DUNN: I feel you dawg, u got usc and shit, just keep working dawg, ur a real
good player and u knows that

ME: I’m not good yet, this is all potential that I worked myself into and showed that if I put the work in, I can be a draft pick in a couple years. I ain’t shit yet. I didn’t do anything that you didn’t do or Dre didn’t do or other niggas haven’t done. USC is huge for me, but it’s just one step closer to where I wanna be. And I can’t work if God keeping me away from where I worked the most to get USC.. And it just hurts.
It’s like I know everything is gonna be okay.. And all the certainty in the world is telling me “God got you”
You taught me to never settle bro, and I haven’t
But being at home alone and not being able to workout makes me feel like I’m settling, and it’s eating me alive.
I just want him to give me back the life I had before June
Yes July he’s gonna give me everything I deserve, and patience has played a huge factor all year
But right now, there’s something else that’s just killing me inside
And my laugh and my smile and my natural personality gives off this impression that I’m okay
And when I get alone, as I am 90% of the time..
How I really feel comes out of me and I become concerned bro
It hurts!
And no one is here
And no one is telling me everything is gonna be okay, but me

KRIS DUNN: Why cant u workout

ME: I don’t even know, that’s how I know God is doing it to me!!!!!!
I don’t have a ride to my school to workout everyday like I did before June
I’m not going to the park to workout outside when I can’t get a gym inside
IT’S like I’m not in control
And it fucking hurts, I’m about to cry just from texting it all out to you!!

KRIS DUNN: U good, just txt um someone with a car bro

ME: He won’t let me..
Everyone I call don’t pick up
Everyone I text, don’t text me back
I’m gonna just run there started tomorrow
I have to make something out of nothing, as I always have
I can’t stop now, no matter what GOD throws at me
If everything is gonna be okay, then it is
And I refuse to leave any room for doubt in my head

KRIS DUNN: Gotta do what u gotta do

ME: I mean, it’s gotten me this far and what God is putting me through, is steep. And I been here before. I know that it’ll all be worth it when this feeling is gone. But if I have the power to get this pain out of me sooner, then I will

KRIS DUNN: U good bro trust

ME: Thank you bro, for everything

Now I know a lot of you read that conversation and said “that’s deep”. But that’s the relationship I have with Kris. I told ya’ll about it in the “Self Evaluation: The Work Ethic” piece that I previously wrote. He’s been that person to me. And he always knows what to say. I knew God was testing me, however, I know how he works. And I knew that everything would be okay. But there was a small part of me (which I never showed) that always had a doubt. I called it “immaturity”. I needed someone to tell else to tell me “everything was gonna be alright”. College coaches who had offered me or were recruiting me would tell me “what’s gonna happen is, you’re gonna blow up in July and other big schools are gonna offer you”. And I’d say in my head “that’s what I trained for”. Then again, was that God telling me that thru the coaches? Was that message delivered from him? And my sense told me, “yes”. So why stop here? I know what the future holds, but why leave any room for doubt? It hurt too much, anyhow. And so the next morning, 745AM, I wake up to the alarm of “Headlines” by Drake that reads “Too in love, to cheat myself.. Leave no room for doubt”, and I got out of my bed with a vengeance. I kiss both of my basketballs, as I always do, I mean, I do love this game. But just part of the ritual, show love. I brush my teeth and everything, head downstairs, eat some cereal, grab my bag pack, grab my ball, I POINT AT THE ESPNHS MAGAZINE COVER OF KRIS DUNN IN THE BOOK/MOVIE SHELF IN NY LIVING ROOM and run from my house, through downtown, to my school. I ran because I chose too. I wasn’t gonna let anything stop me from working out this time. If this is how God wanted me to out the work in, then this is what it was going to be. As Kris told me, “gotta do what you gotta do”.
NOTE: Coach Antwan (who was gonna be working me out this morning with several things plan to me away from basketball skill to bring my body to an elite level), had offered to give me a ride there and back the night before, and he usually does, but this time I told him I was running there and running back. And that’s what I did. I put on the “For The Kill” instrumental on my iPod, put it into my bag, and run to the school. Another reason I was running was because during the April live period, I would have so many games where I would kill in the first half, with 15+ points. Sometimes even 20+ points. And the defense would make adjustments to slow me down in the second half. Whether it was to bring in fresh legs off the bench, trap me, pick me up full court, make me give the ball up every time, or whatever else, they did. And it worked because I was tired. I pushed myself through fatigue but I’d end up with 10 points or so in the half and we’d lose because my second half play didn’t lift my teammates like my first half play did and my team usually plays off of me. So, it was important to me to come back in July a different animal. I wasn’t gonna kill in the first half, or the second half, I was gonna kill the entire game. And I had that in the back of my head as I ran through those downtown Hartford streets. People would look at me through their windshields in their cars and other citizens would look at me and look away. I hadn’t known what they were thinking, I’m just a kid running through the streets with a basketball in my hands and a bag pack on. They probably thought I stole something. But I told myself while I was running that one day they won’t look at me and be so quick to look away. They’ll know exactly who I am because I put my city on the map.

(my work ethic on this day. I know a lot of people wonder what I do when I workout, well, this is what I did on THIS day):

Once I got to the school, I did the following with Coach Antwan:

The Warm-Up

· Use the ‘Pro Agility Pole Set’ and we did a total of 6 repetitions

· The first two reps were done at half speed with the basketball in hand.

· The final 4 Reps were at game speed and the athlete had to finish at the end of the drill with a lay-up or a shot in front of a ‘Prop’

The Workout

· Box Jumps on the ‘High Box’ for 8 reps and 3 sets


· Squats for 3 sets reps were 8, 10, and 12


· Standing Alternating Leg press for 3 sets and the reps were 8, 10, and 10

Phase 2

· Pull-Ups for 8, 10, and 10

(After the second set of pull ups, Coach Antwan looks at me and says “you’re working today man, I’m proud of you, it’s gonna show man. I can’t guarantee you when, but I can guarantee you the results will show”. And he leaves to work on someone else in the gym, I’m in the weight room if you didn’t know, and before starting my third and final set I pause for a second. Is this God speaking to me? Is he telling me they will? And then I’m just hoping its July.. However those words meant a lot to me. I tell myself “alright boy let’s set, let’s work” and get right back at it.)


· Chest Fly’s with 25lbs dumbbell Reps – 10, 10, and 10 3 sets


· Bent over Hamstring Extensions 8, 10, 10


· Walking Push-Up’s while feet are being held by partner. 4 total trips to half court and jog it out.

I shoot around a little bit, just so that even though my arms can barely raise, I’m keeping my muscle memory on track with training. Don’t wanna be one of those people who just get so much stronger that their jumpshot changes.
Once I feel my arms loosening up and I start hitting a couple “in game” situation shots.. I feel good about it and I change my sneaks, shake Coach Antwan hand, tell him” send me what I did today”, tell him “Thank you” and then I leave the school.

Seconds after.. I’m running back home.
Again, coming back in July a different animal was important to me. They weren’t gonna stop me in the second half this time. I told myself that. Constantly. This time I have “2-12-12 Thoughts” by Ace Hood playing on my iPod in my bag. I love this song because the chorus says “Nothing’s gonna stop me”. And I had this on repeat as I ran through the streets for the second time this morning, telling myself “2nd half, they aren’t gonna stop me this time, let’s work”. And I’m pushing. Chest burning, aching. But pain is temporary. “Don’t stop running no matter what”, I told myself as I felt myself slowing down due to my chest pains. I knew I was just getting stronger but it hurt and so I listened to my body until it went away and slowed down. But I refused to stop running. I had flashbacks of games in the April where I was face guarded full court in the second half and couldn’t get open because I was too tired to make hard cuts or outrun who was in front of me. And so I kept running. And once I seen my house, I sprinted the last two blocks there. I did this because when doing the “Insane Asylum” workout with one of my most faithful and loyal supporters Coach Donorae, I ran the mile in 5:43, did 94ft sprints with 10 second breaks in between each one for 5 minutes, did 94ft suicides with 15 second breaks in between each one for 5 minutes, did box runs (360 around the cone for 5 minutes with a 10 second rest in between, etc), and then my last box drill was to sprint, slide, back pedal, slide. And after all of that, I was to run one last lap around the track in 1:00 or less. I’d be doing this workout for almost two and a half years. However, since I had just ran the 5:43 mile and been a different animal when it came to working out all year, I felt like I could make it. He yells “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO” and I sprint the whole way around the track. I hadn’t slowed down the entire time, and I feel like I made it. Suddenly, I wheeze. And then I wheeze again. Just 20 feet away from the finish line. And then I cross. I go right to my knees and look up at him, and he’s smiling. I say “did I make it?” and he says “1:01.69”. When I tell you I was angry, I WAS ANGRY. He could’ve stopped it a second early right? Like, damn. But, that’s why I love him and that’s why I allow him to train me at times because he’s gonna push me to the top and he’d never use me, for anything. And I thank him, because this would also get me ready for July, because I was for damn sure thinking about those second halves in April, and I wouldn’t be stopped this time in July. Yet, I missed it by a second.
So, whenever I was a block or two away from my house, I sprinted it, saying to myself “you aren’t gonna miss the final lap by a second no more” and I pushed and sprinted through the wheezing, as I hadn’t before. And then, I’m enter my home, and crash right onto the living room carpet. Head first. I grab my basketball and lay with it in my arms, reflect on what God had been putting me through. Tweet a few things. And “2-12-12 Thoughts” by Ace Hood is still playing on rerun so it goes through 3 or 4 times before I decide to get up. I’m dropping sweat everywhere, but by the time I get up, I’m pretty much dry besides my soaked shirt and compressions.
My tweets that day (June 19, 2012) read:

@kahlildukes: The results I deserve, are promised. Exactly when they will show, unfortunately, is not. In converse to that, God always has perfect timing

@kahlildukes: They want me to commit to them, yet THEY’RE ALL TELLING ME: “you’re gonna blow up in July and get more high majors”. God speaks so clearly..

@kahlildukes: All the credit goes to @ShowTime_Dunn for always being there when I need him the most. I went and got it this morning bro, hope you’re proud

Those last two were tweeted as I laid on the carpet, the first one was tweeted before I left my school. I was thinking about that tweet first because of what Coach Antwan told me after I was doing my second set of pull ups. And so I had that tweet on my mind before I finished m workout. And it carried me the rest of the way.

Coach Donorae read the tweet about Kris and had the follow to say:

COACH DONORAE: You’re better than Kris…believe that
Even he doesn’t work as hard as you

ME: Wouldn’t be here without him

COACH DONORAE: Why not…you was working before he came in the picture
Not like this
Don’t discredit your hard work!!
He definitely is living proof that hard work pays off
But he ain’t wit you shooting in the gym!!
(Ross voice)
He not waking you up to workout wit the trainer

ME: I point at his magazine cover everyday before I leave the house to go train

But you are responsible for the work u put in!!
Not me, not Big Dukes…not no one but you!!
I’ve never met another kid wit as much ambition as you
As much desire
A harder work ethic…not a day in my life
I only read about pro’s that work as hard
So although u may give credit to those who paved the way, are motivated you…do no discredit yourself!
I tell ppl that all the time…you are responsible for where u are right now
Never seen a kid want it more
Never seen a kid work as hard
The End.

ME: The story will speak for itself, and I’ll be what Kris was to me, to someone else

I finally crack a meaningful smile.. God knew why.
And if you reading this know why, then Thank You for understanding why what everything he had said to me made me smile.


In conclusion to this piece, as I look at all that I’ve been through, it was never a life crisis or normal negative event. When I say “life crisis or normal negative event”, I mean getting in trouble in school, suspensions, getting arrested, being locked up, being accused of raping somebody, getting in a fight, or anything like that, those things never happen to me and God knew they never would because I had learned to keep myself out of this situations at a young age. I knew when to be quiet, I knew when to be alone. And I did both, all year. When bad things happen to good people they usually say “I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time”, well, that day would never come for me because I’m always in the gym or at home. And that’s how I’ll be in college as well. And God knew that, so I think he put me through certain things like; not working out, not getting a bunch of love, not being ranked top 100 or 150, not getting more than one high major offer after April, not new interest from new schools after the unlimited rule was put into place, not giving me answers to my questions through this misery, and not helping me this time. He did these things to put me through something negative. He did these things to keep me humbled. He did these things because I didn’t have a father to do them of teach me things. He did these things because I needed these things. He did these things to remind me that I always had to work for everything I would get, and that April was just the beginning. He did these things to test me. And on this day, June 19th, I finally passed the test. When God is putting you through things you feel as though you don’t deserve or don’t make sense, there’s always a reason behind it. I said “never mind” to the better days, because those are gonna come just because God loves me and I work hard. And I embraced the challenge because for the first time since the fall, I worked so hard that I came home and just shut down my body and went straight to the floor. And right then and there, I knew that God was just testing me and I had nothing to worry about. God was my dad. And I was his son. And so I knew he’d be with me in July because he was with me all year, from last August which is almost a year ago, through 10 months of training and self-preparation, to now, and I knew that July belonged to me.
I remember everything that happen last July, what Kris showed me, and my eyes caught everything. Those images of him and everything that happen throughout the rest of that month, lied as an image in my head.
July is ours.
July is mine.
July is for Kris.

Thank YOU for reading this and everybody else who supports me, looks up to me, idolizes me, and believes in me.
I leave you with this last piece before I leave for Indiana, Philly, and Vegas the second week of July.
I promise that you will be proud of me when I return home.

(Written on June 19, 2012)

P.S. - Oh and I did another workout later, had to get more shots up, that shoot around after my morning workout with Coach Antwan just wasn’t enough for me. Coach Donorae was helping me. He said I ended up shooting 700+ and made at least 500 or so before the janitors kicked us out the gym.

We were aiming for 1,000 makes..

Tag someone you dare to switch on you!! #handlelife #OBAT #AiP #860 #IPROMISE #OutWorkCrew (at Galen Center)

@courtneyjay10 said she wanted to #handlelife at midnight! #OBAT #AiP #OutWorkCrew #IPROMISE (at Galen Center)