Football family plays and stays together with help from mom - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Football family plays and stays together with help from mom

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Ron Wakefield Ron Wakefield
Keron Wakefield Keron Wakefield
Keion Wakefield Keion Wakefield
Laketa Wakefield (Source: Ron Wakefield) Laketa Wakefield (Source: Ron Wakefield)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – This is a football story about a football family that transcends the gridiron. They are part of a rich Kentucky high school tradition and Friday night we found out their motivation to play goes well beyond the field.

At Male High School football games, families wear their team buttons proudly. Male High assistant coach Ron Wakefield and his sons are used to the support and being in the spotlight. We were there when Coach Ron had to face off a couple of years ago against his oldest son, Keron, a star at the time for archrival Manual High.

Keron's talents made news again as he became a Kentucky Wildcat. Now, youngest son, Keion is not only playing for dad at Male, but the standout wide receiver's future is wide open.

Just a sophomore, Keion has already been asked to play for UK. Florida is interested too. But as the Wakefields hit the field every weekend, it's the family member you don't see who's actually leading them every play, every day.

"We met in 1988 on the school bus," Coach Wakefield remembered. 

They were students at Doss High when Ron saw a pretty, petite underclassman with a big smile. He says it was love at first sight. Wife Laketa convinced Ron to become a coach and she is the person who inspires her sons.

"I can go to her for anything," Keion said of his mother, "and if I'm having a bad day, she can just keep me up."

Keion and his brother talk to their mom daily - in prayer.

"She passed away, it will be two years next Friday," Coach Ron said. "She had Lupus and Scleroderma."

The two debilitating conditions took Laketa's life at age 37. But the men in her life say she never showed her pain, only that beautiful smile. Her quiet courage, faith and love for her family kept Laketa going much longer than doctors ever thought. 

As Ron coached, Keron played and Keion worked as a ball boy, Laketa was there. She wasn't in the stands because she couldn't make the walk, but Male and Manual allowed the family's car to sit just past the end zone.

"We would park by the ambulance and she would get to watch the game," Coach Ron remembered. 

It's difficult on Ron that talking about Laketa still brings tears. Keion tell us his father has adapted better than he knows to this unexpected game change. 

"He's been mother and father," Keion said, "and also he's been a best friend too. Whenever you need someone to talk to, he's there."

Keion is certain his mom is there too. With buttons on, Laketa's family watched Keion at Friday night's game against Fairdale. They saw Keion go 34 yards for the score with his biggest cheerleader still providing his strength from the sidelines.  

Keion told us his mom is his angel watching over him. 

On this night Male won the game over Fairdale, 52-14. 

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