Comedian Kier Spates was born in Houston Texas in 1978. During that time
there was no mandatory testing for infants in Texas. Only since May 1,
2006, have all states required and provided universal newborn screening
for SCD despite a national recommendation to complete screening since
1987. Like most, Kier’s parents could not understand why their child was
so sick and in so much pain. Kier was misdiagnosed with everything from
food allergies to other common pediatric issues. It took seven years of
emergency room visits and hospital stays for one physician to finally
diagnose him with sickle cell disease in 1985.
Suffering with sickle cell disease in silence was not uncommon in the
African American Community as there was a lack of knowledge of the
disease. Sickle Cell Disease is misunderstood as being contagious, an
automatic death sentence, and that people with SCD can’t do what
“normal” people do! This stigma is a heavy burden for a young child who
has no clue why they are treated differently and why they are the source
of their family’s hardship.
Sickle Cell Disease laid a heavy burden on Kier’s entire family
physically, emotionally, and economically. His parent’s marriage and his
emotional stability were a casualty to the strain of sickle cell disease. It
is difficult being labeled the sick child in your community. Education,
family functions, enjoying play with his sister, and just day to day
things any other kid enjoy was negatively impacted by hospital stays and
anxiety associated with fears of the onset of the next sickle cell
crisis. Doctors made a diagnosis that Kier would not live past age of
eleven, but his Parents knew God had other plans for him.
at a very young age enjoyed making others laugh. It was at the age
of fourteen he realized comedy was something he could do for the rest of
his life. He did not initially know his destination was comedy, but he
got better and better at the art of laugher. He constantly kept those
around him in stitches. He was the resident funny guy and entertainer
for friends and family. He enjoyed making people happy for he felt at
times because of his illness that he caused others sadness. Kier's
favorite person to imitate at family functions was Michael Jackson.
During class his science teacher would allow him to do eight minutes of
stand-up at the end of the day if everyone performed well on their test.
During his teen years sickle cell disease manifested additional problems
for Kier. If transitioning into a young man isn’t difficult enough,
Kier had to struggle with his illness along with all the other
emotional and social adjustments experienced by teen boys. Watching his
parents’ marriage disintegrate along with constant financial instability
took its toll on his ability to laugh through the pain and depression
set in. Kier failed twice in efforts to end his life and it was that
second failure that he knew God intended for him to survive whether he
wanted to or not. He realized with the support of his family and very
special friend Dr. John Schmick that he could make it. Their
understanding of what he was enduring and undying support gave him hope.
He realized through their love and commitment to him that he wanted to
enjoy the best life had to offer so he learned to live with the pain.
high school Kier put his focus on enjoying life as a normal teen is
spite of his disease. He became an athlete. He was a member of the
track, basketball and football team. His parents taught him not allow
SCD to define him as a person. Kier was a thriving running back when
his career was cut short during his senior year. The coaching staff made
the decision to pull Kier off the team when he was looking forward to
being scouted by colleges in order to attain a scholarship. This was his
opportunity to repay his parents for the financial burden he felt he has
placed on them by having sickle cell disease. The coaching staff’s lack
of knowledge and understanding of the disease made the decision that
Kier could no longer play after over 3 1/2 successful years on the team.
When his mother was asked about the possibility of him dying while
playing by the coaching staff she responded with a resounding, “At least
he would die doing what he loved to do!" That very moment of heartbreak
and disappointment forced Kier to develop the mental toughness that
keeps him going today.
was Kier to do now at 19 years of age? He decided to make a commitment
to doing what he did well and what made him feel great. Kier decided
that he would become a full time comedian. If he can live through
countless SCD crisis, bouts with depression and two failed suicides, he
no doubt could endure the struggles of becoming an entertainer. So at
this point in his life, Kier is battling sickle cell disease, economic
instability, near homelessness and no medical insurance. He has truly
lived dangerously and prevailed. One could say he pulled more than a
couple of “Fear Factors!”
here Kier is now, the man who was told he would not live past the age of
11! He is on the number one syndicated radio show in the country, “The
Steve Harvey Morning Show”. Touring the country and abroad entertaining.
Kier is also serving as the Sickle Cell Disease Society of America
Celebrity Ambassador (SCDAA). So what are his plans now?! He is” Working
to change the shape of Sickle Cell Disease.”