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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. 

Kier 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. 

In 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. 

 What 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 a more than a couple of “Fear Factors”! 

So 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”  


 

 

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