The twisting saga of Kezo Brown’s high school career has taken another dramatic turn. The Simeon senior is currently in a psychiatric hospital and it is possible he will miss the upcoming season.
“I don’t know if he will come back and play this year,” Kezo’s dad, Marquis Brown Sr. said. “This is heartbreaking. I don’t want my son to have to go through this. I don’t want to lose my son. It’s rough here in Chicago.”
Brown was the freshman phenom from the state’s class of 2018. The only freshman in Simeon history to receive more playing time than Brown was Jabari Parker. He participated in the USA U16 national team training camp and clearly seemed destined to become the city’s next star basketball attraction.
The first turn arrived sophomore year, it was a disaster. Brown stopped playing basketball due to an undisclosed health issue. His junior season was triumphant. Brown returned and was excellent, he scored 26 points for the Wolverines in the city title title game.
“What he did last year was incredible, after missing his sophomore year,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “The performance he put on in the city championship, we hadn’t seen one of those in a long time.”
Brown wasn’t quite himself during Simeon’s run to the Class 4A state championship game. Smith says the team knew something was wrong. Brown is an excellent defender and he was forgetting his assignment at crucial times.
Then Brown injured his ankle in May. Instead of playing on the summer basketball circuit he had to sit and watch his peers pass him by in the national rankings.”
“He watched [Morgan Park’s Ayo Dosunmu] and [Simeon teammate Talen Horton-Tucker] get all those accolades and he knows he should be right there with those guys,” Brown Sr. said. “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.”
Brown recently started telling people he was finished playing basketball and began posting disturbing gang-related images on his social media accounts.
“Kezo is not in a gang, but he is going through a situation where he is hollering out for help,” Brown Sr. said. “He’s not in a gang, but in his mind I think he thinks he is. He hardly even goes outside, we don’t let him out.”
Brown Sr. said his son’s challenges first cropped up sophomore year.
“He was diagnosed with a mental health problem,” Brown Sr. said. “That’s why he missed his whole sophomore year. We tried to keep it quiet for awhile, but so many people are saying so many different things. He isn’t in a gang, he doesn’t hang out like that.”
Brown is a good student, a kid that actually likes going to school.
“He doesn’t miss school when he’s healthy,” Smith, who is also a dean at Simeon, said. “He comes every day and is doing well in his classes. He just has flashes here and there, he was fine almost all of last year.”
Smith has seen the massive pressure that is heaped on young basketball stars.
“It’s so much,” Smith said. “I remember talking to Derrick [Rose] and telling him that I didn’t know how he handled it all. I don’t think I could have. It’s your family and school and neighborhood pushing on you to make it and help them, it becomes a lot. They don’t get to be kids anymore.”
Brown has felt that pressure. A local rapper, Yung Curt, even named a song “Kezo Brown.”
Brown is a charming kid, well-liked all over the city. Orr’s Chase Adams started a twitter hashtag #kezobrownchallenge to try and cheer up his friend.
— Chase Adams (@chasec0urage) October 3, 2017
“Kezo and I have been friends since fourth grade, it’s more than basketball,” Dosunmu said. “That’s my brother, we compete but it’s nothing but love. He will overcome this, I’m praying for him and the family.”
— Mr. WhyNotMe (@AyoDos_11) October 4, 2017
Brown has orally committed to Chicago State, but his dad doesn’t know where that currently stands. The early signing period begins next month.
“As of right now I’m hoping he signs, but I really don’t know,” Brown Sr. said. “We have to find out if Chicago State still wants him. They seem like they’ve had his back. Even when he said he wanted to sit out senior year.”
Brown Sr. thinks the gang association comes from some family members.
“He listens to that Lil JoJo [a Chicago rapper killed in 2012],” Brown Sr. said. “JoJo was close with his mother’s family. By him hanging out with his cousins, who are a part of a gang, he locked onto that in his head. At one point Kezo thought he was on top of the world. He’s not as big as he was, so he was looking for something.”
Kansas and Duke were both recruiting Brown during his freshman year. The blue blood schools moved on after his issues sophomore year, but Brown Sr. doesn’t mind. He’s just hoping his son returns to basketball and takes advantage of his opportunity at Chicago State.
“I talked to [Duke assistant coach] Jon Scheyer plenty of times,” Brown said. “But I’m thrilled with the situation at Chicago State. It’s a great situation for him.”Tags: Simeon