Toronto Argonauts running back Cory Boyd has had to stare down adversity far too often for a man his age, and the recent death of Kenny McKinley presented another tragic speed bump in his life.
It was announced Monday night that McKinley, a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Boyd was McKinley’s roommate and teammate at the University of South Carolina from 2005 to 2007.
McKinley had been reportedly depressed after suffering a season-ending knee injury last month, and the sorrow of not being able to participate in his passion had apparently driven him to take his own life.
“It seemed like he was on the right track,” Boyd told reporters on Wednesday. “But every day you experience something in life that scares you away or distracts you and I think that is what happened.”
Boyd tried his hardest to hide his despair upon arriving in Moncton, N.B., this week to partake in Touchdown Atlantic, and takes solace in his teammates to get him through this difficult time.
“It’s sad but at the same time I know I have to be here with my teammates, just to be around comfort,” he said. “I can’t be in that environment right now. It’s just, uh … it’s unreal, it was unexpected, and it hurts, it really does.”
The 25-year-old running back encountered death several times growing up in the projects of Orange, N.J.
When he was a child, his mother, a single parent and drug dealer, was sentenced to four years in prison and subsequently died of a heart attack while behind bars, leaving Boyd to be raised by his grandmother.
Other tragic chapters that have defined Boyd’s life include the death of his high school girlfriend and having to watch his cousin die in his arms after he was gunned down.
But in these times of sorrow, Boyd continues to stay true to his religious convictions.
“I try to keep a smile on my face and try not to zone out as much and get to thinking,” he said solemnly. “I’ve been there, I’ve really been there, to the point where you don’t know what life is going to do for you and that’s where my faith kicks in.”
Aside from being a friend and teammate to McKinley, Boyd is also the godfather of his one-year-old son, Keon. And now, Boyd will be given the chance to be the father figure he lacked in his childhood.
“I want to make sure the little guy is okay, and make sure the family knows I will be there to pick up the slack,” Boyd said.
“No stress about bills, relationships or anything. He can just sit back and look over me and smile and know that I will be there for his child, that was the reason he made me the godfather. Just to be sure he still finishes living his dream through me.”
Although he will stay with the Argonauts through Sunday’s game in Moncton, Boyd will jump on a plane shortly after to attend McKinley’s funeral on Monday.
Despite the tough hand that he’s been dealt, the soft-spoken Boyd said he never relishes in the negative and finds a way to provide emotional strength for the loved ones in his life.
“I owe it to my teammates, to him, to his family and ultimately I owe it to God and just keep pushing forward and try to show a positive mindset.”