Kemp's eldest son, Shawn Jr., making his own name (cont.)
When Kemp was 5, his mother relocated to the Atlanta area for a job with Nordstrom's, her employer in Seattle. He said he didn't have contact with his dad again until he attended a game between the Hawks and the elder Kemp's second NBA team, the Cavaliers, in 2000.
"That was the first time I remember seeing him since I was 3 years old," Kemp Jr. said. "We got to talk to him after the game before he got on the bus, for like 15 minutes. I don't even remember what about; I was just like ..."
He trailed off there, expressing wonder over seeing his dad in the NBA -- not animosity over him being an absentee father. On that subject, Kemp Jr. has a magnanimous stance: "I'm just cool with it." Some of the scattered Kemp kids seem interested in bonding over their shared experience: Kemp Jr. said he has been contacted, on MySpace, by a half-sister and half-brother he didn't know existed. ("I guess they just went on and searched," he said. "I got a message saying, 'I'm your brother,' and I was like, 'Oh, OK.'") The half-brother, Kyree Kemp, is an 11-year-old in San Diego, and Kemp Jr. said he'd like to eventually visit him.
It wasn't until 2006, after the elder Kemp's final NBA comeback bid, and his second drug-related arrest, that he reached out to Shawn Jr., calling him in hopes of fostering a relationship. Kemp's father is married now, has three children with his current wife, and splits time between the Seattle and Houston areas. Kemp Jr. and his father have since been talking periodically, with Doyal's blessing. "He still loves his dad and respects him," she said, "and I feel it's better late than never that he's going to try to be part of things."
One of Doyal's brothers, Harold, who played basketball at Western Washington University in the '90s and now plays professionally in Spain, has served as a basketball mentor for her son during the offseason. Harold most recently played for L'Hospitalet in Barcelona, alongside Serge Ibaka -- who, coincidentally, became a first-round pick of the Sonics in last month's NBA draft. But the elder Kemp, who is still regarded, along with Gary Payton, as one of the greatest players in that franchise's history, has begun making attempts to play a role in his first son's basketball career as well. Kvam said that Kemp Sr. dropped in on a Cherokee practice near the end of last season, prior to the team's state playoff game. His father has never been to a high-school game at Cherokee, but did attend an AAU tournament in Portland last month in which Kemp Jr.'s Atlanta-based Worldwide Renegades were playing, and got to see his son in action on the court.
Kemp Jr. has begun to embrace the source of his NBA genes. Just last week, he said, he was wearing a throwback jersey of his dad's -- retro green-and-gold Sonics, number 40, the name KEMP stitched on the back. And on Kemp Jr.'s right shoulder is a tattoo of a basketball with "S.K." and "40" inked inside. He's finally switching his high-school number to 40 this season to match his dad's old Sonics digits. "I've been wanting to wear  for a while now," he said.
A couple of days before the Reebok All-American Camp began, Kemp Jr. received another call from his father -- and along with it, an invitation. The elder Kemp, for the first time, inquired about running his son through some workout sessions in Houston to prepare him for his senior year. They're still trying to iron out the details, but hoping to meet up soon after the final AAU tournaments conclude, in the final days of summer. It will be a reunion long overdue.
"His father said he wanted to basically work with him, on basketball," Doyal said, recalling the conversation. "Which, I think, is a very good thing. Because he said he doesn't want his son to be compared to him. He wants his son to be better than him."