Wednesday, February 13, 2008

James Robert “Radio” Kennedy

Cuba Gooding Jr. played James Robert “Radio” Kennedy in the movie Radio in 2003. The movie was mostly about college football. It's only loosely related to the real story of Mr. Kennedy. Of all the exaggerations, omissions, additions, lionizations and alterations to make his story into a movie, I can say that at least the nickname "Radio" is real.

The movie is based on a Sports Illustrated magazine article written by Gary Smith. The article was pretty accurate. The movie was lacking. The real James "Radio" Kennedy was born in 1946. At 5 years old he was in a car wreck that left him with brain damage. His early years were as difficult as you'd expect. He never became a DJ, announcer, board op or announcer. His nickname comes purely from the transistor radio that he always carried with him. When he first was discovered by the coaches of T.L. Hanna High School in 1964 he was loitering in the football field with that same radio.

Anderson South Carolina celebrated the life of "Radio." He has his own song, Eyes Of The Heart played on local radio stations. In 2003, three years after the movie made their town famous, Hanna High School unveiled a bronze statue of Radio. Radio has even gone on the road and spoken at universities. He was recognized on the floor of the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2005 for his inspirational acts. But he's never graduated from high school.