LARAMIE – Cordae Wynn is like many high school seniors.
He juggles his time between basketball practice and school at Laramie High. He spends much of his time at home doing daily chores, homework and interacting with family.
Wynn has aspirations of going to college and playing basketball.
But there was a time not that long ago when things like that were not fathomable for Wynn. Thanks to the Kimbrough family, now they are.
Jermaine Kimbrough was hired as an assistant coach for the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team by Allen Edwards a little more than three years ago. Kimbrough and his wife, Tameka, had four kids when they moved to Laramie.
Less than a year after moving here, they added a fifth in Wynn.
Wynn is from Omaha, Nebraska, and due to – in his words – “a few altercations,” found himself at the Cathedral Home for Children just north of Laramie.
Wynn was playing basketball for Laramie High, and became friends and teammates with one of the Kimbroughs’ sons, Asa, who told his parents they needed to do something to help Wynn. The Cathedral Home for Children does a lot to help kids, but it isn’t a full-time option in terms of residence. In the Kimbroughs’ words, Wynn was about to “stage out” and would have to go back to Omaha, or to another facility.
After hearing what Asa told them, Jermaine and Tameka talked it over and wanted to do something. They didn’t adopt Wynn, but became his legal guardians.
With four kids already, including at the time two in the 3- to 5-year-old range, and a work schedule that has Jermaine on the road a lot, was adding a fifth to the family ideal?
“The most important thing for my family is we serve the Lord,” Jermaine said. “We look at everyone and everybody’s situation as the same. We were put on this earth to help one another and to see people reach their hopes and dreams.
“We’ve tried to be a stepping stone for him, and to help him understand what family is and what love is. Our hearts were in the right place, and we made a heart decision.
“When you go into this process, they give you a file. It said (Wynn) needed to have this, this and this in order to be successful. When he got with us, we realized the only things he needed were love, shelter and family. We’ve never had an ounce of a problem out of him, other than the typical teenage stuff we went through with our own kids.”
Wynn said some of that typical teenage stuff includes, “When I have to do something I don’t feel like doing.”
Tameka said there are a lot of rules and structure, and that she “nags him every day.”
But in the end, it is all good.
“I welcome it and embrace it,” Wynn said. “To have someone to lean on and be there for me is pretty cool. They’re always there.
“To have siblings is pretty sweet.”
Wynn’s story has turned out better than many with similar circumstances. And even though he has a family with the Kimbroughs, he still has some contact with his siblings and other family members in Omaha.
Because Wynn is a resident of Nebraska, state law there says kids must turn 19 to become “emancipated.” That means the Kimbroughs are his legal guardians until he’s 19. In most states, including Wyoming, it is 18.
The Kimbroughs don’t need a number to tell them that Wynn is a member of the family.
“He is the best bonus kid ever,” Tameka said. “He is not going anywhere. He is stuck with us.”
When asked where he thinks he would be if it hadn’t been for the Kimbroughs, Wynn simply said: “I don’t know.”
But after an up-and-down past, Wynn now appears to have a chance at a bright future.
Robert Gagliardi is the WyoSports senior editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @rpgagliardi.