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Archdeacon: ‘I think I can be a role model for both sides’

Ke’Von Huguely of Ohio State Highway Patrol. CONTRIBUTED
Ke’Von Huguely of Ohio State Highway Patrol. CONTRIBUTED

Ke’Von Huguely, former Meadowdale, Ohio State football player, has unique perspective as Black state trooper

Several years back Jon Bon Jovi had a hit song entitled “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”

Ke’Von Huguely wondered if that would be true five weeks ago when he came to Dayton. He knew his return might come with a kind of intense, in-your-face debate he’d never before experienced back home.

Huguely – once a football star and the class valedictorian at Meadowdale High School and then an Ohio State football player – is now an Ohio State Highway Patrolman.

He is also a 23-year-old African American.

On May 30 and 31, he was sent back to his hometown as part of the law enforcement presence called in for the Black Lives Matter protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd – an unarmed, handcuffed 46-year-old black man – by a white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for nine minutes and refused to listen to the dying man’s pleas that he could not breathe.

It was one of many deaths of blacks in this country by police officers and this time – thanks to a video recording of the entire incident – the emotions were raw and the anger was not always contained.

Huguely had been a highway patrolman just 13 months when he was sent to Dayton from his Springfield post and he admitted he was concerned:

“Yeah, I was kind of nervous. I thought I was gonna see people I knew. I come from the inner city and people I know, some of my friends, they are upset. And I understand. I know about injustices in the African American community. And what happened to George Floyd, obviously I feel that’s wrong.

“But me being an African American in law enforcement, I try to see some of the things both ways. I hear their perspective and I can talk to them about the law enforcement view, too.

“In Dayton though I just stayed in my position and didn’t say anything. I didn’t want anything to flare up.

“But I did get: ‘Why are you on that side? You should be over here with us!’”

That is a dilemma for many black officers across the country who feel caught in the middle of these protests.

Thy feel the anguish seeing another black man killed by fellow law officers and yet they must uphold their sworn duty and try to keep peace during protests born from those killings.

“My emotion, my fervor is no less than those people on the streets,” New York City Police Detective Felicia Richards, who is black and a 34-year veteran of the force, told Time Magazine. “I understand what my obligation is to this uniform, but I can’t compromise my humanity.”

It was the same in Philadelphia, where a black police supervisor, who sought anonymity to avoid repercussions, told the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Blue doesn’t acknowledge us because we are Black and Black doesn’t acknowledge us because we are blue.”

Huguely admitted: “It’s tough, but I think I can be a role model for both sides.

“I think the motorists and the other people I come in contact with each day see an African American trooper, something they’re not too used to seeing.

“And they know I have different experiences and understand some things other people might not. And I can tell them the day-to-day aspects of what police officers go through and what we face.

“On the other hand, I’m the only African American trooper at the Springfield post so they get to see a different culture. They see a black male who came from Dayton and the can hear what my experiences were like.”

Besides the two days of Dayton protests, he said he has drawn regular assignments guarding the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus during protests:

“We just had to make sure the Statehouse wasn’t vandalized. Before it was kind of chaotic there, but now things have quieted down.

“I work the night shift and when you’re there eight hours you meet other troopers and you talk about where you’re from and your experiences. That might help some people see things differently and get a little different perspective.”

‘Amazing’ experience at OSU

“He’s got a great story to tell,” Derrick Malone Sr. once told me.

Derrick’s son, Derrick Jr., is Ke’Von’s best friend since grade school and they were teammates – and roommates – at Ohio State. Derrick Sr. saw a lot of Ke’Von growing up. He coached him and his son in football, basketball and track in middle school.

While his son is 6-foot-5 and Ke’Von is 5-foot-7, Derrick Sr. said: “I consider Ke’Von to be Derrick’s big brother. Growing up he gave my son the (backbone) he needed. There were times in basketball practice when kids wanted to fight Derrick, but he’s not that kind of guy.

Ke’Von Huguely and best friend Derrick Malone, who was his teammate at Ohio State and is also from Dayton. Ke’Von and Derrick were college roommates and still live together in Columbus. CONTRIBUTED
Ke’Von Huguely and best friend Derrick Malone, who was his teammate at Ohio State and is also from Dayton. Ke’Von and Derrick were college roommates and still live together in Columbus. CONTRIBUTED

“But Ke’Von comes from grit. He’s real gritty and he passed some of that on to Derrick.”

Ke’Von channeled that aggressiveness on the football field. He started at running back all four years at Meadowdale and was the team captain for three.

Although he said he struggled in the classroom in grade school, he singled out a trio of teachers who spent extra time with him back then and eventually he became a stellar student.

The class valedictorian, he received an academic scholarship to Ohio State.

Derrick had gone to Thurgood Marshall and was a good student, as well. When he got accepted at Ohio State, the football coaches reached out to him to be a preferred walk-on.

In turn, he convinced Ke’Von to send the Bucks coaches a highlight tape and, once he did, he had a walk-on offer, as well.

At OSU, their bond tightened.

“We’re friends to this day because we have the same goals in life,” Ke’Von said. “We both wanted to go to college and graduate. We both had the same mindset and used to push each other, whether it was on the football field or the study table. And we still push each other.

“It’s pretty cool when somebody is on the same page as you. He’s more than my friend, he’s my brother. I don’t know how to put it except were basically the same person, just in different bodies, if that makes sense.”

With the Buckeyes, Ke’Von spent most of his time on the scout team mimicking opposing players in practice.

His shining moment came in the 2017 Scarlet and Gray spring game in front of a crowd of 80,000. He ran a post corner route and caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Joe Burrow, who would transfer to LSU after the season and won the Heisman Trophy last year.

Joe Burrow congratulates Ke’Von Huguely after the two connected on a touchdown in the first half of the spring game on Saturday, April 15, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
Joe Burrow congratulates Ke’Von Huguely after the two connected on a touchdown in the first half of the spring game on Saturday, April 15, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Ke’Von did play in a couple of games in 2016, but he said the Buckeye experiences he cherishes go far beyond just those moments:

“There are all those little things some people might take for granted. Really, though, not many people have ever experienced them. Just going through them now gives me flashbacks.

“Getting mentally ready and suiting up and then warming up for a game. Seeing the smoke come out of the tunnel as you run into the stadium and hearing all those people hollering ‘O-H…I-O!’ It was amazing.

“The whole environment of the blackout games against Penn State and beating The Team Up North in overtime. All that is unforgettable.”

He was part of three Buckeye teams that beat Michigan and, as is tradition, each player was given a gold pants charm for the victory.

“My grandmother has one of them, my mom has one and the other one I gave to my auntie,” he said. “That’s why I say this whole thing was bigger than me.

“When I got gear or gloves or cleats, I’d give them to my brothers.”

His younger brothers are twins: Keon’tae and Ke’Shawn Huguely.

With Keon'tae at quarterback and Ke'Shawn at running back, Trotwood Madison won the state Division III football title last December. It was the Rams' second state crown in three seasons.

Ke’Von said his brothers will play for Notre Dame College in South Euclid this coming season.

While he acknowledged they are bigger than him and their two state crowns are something he never accomplished, he laughed and admitted, “I’m still tougher than them.”

Workplace challenges

Even though they have graduated from Ohio State, Ke’Von and Derrick still share an apartment in Columbus.

Derrick is preparing to go to dental school and Ke’Von, already a state trooper, is working on his masters degree in cyber security from Central Michigan University.

One day he hopes to move up the ranks with the highway patrol or maybe even pursue a federal job with the FBI, DEA or ATF.

In the past few months he said his job has gotten more difficult, not just with the protests over police killings and systemic racism, but because of the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ke'Von Huguely, a Meadowdale grad, is a walk-on running back at Ohio State.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

“The coronavirus is scary, too,” he said. “We’ve had to wear masks and if you do arrest someone, you have to take their temperature first before you even bring them back to the office. And the thing is, we’re dealing with people travelling from other states and semi drivers who have been going back and forth across the country.

“A lot of things go through your head when you make a traffic stop. When you walk up to a vehicle now you’re not sure if there’s going to be an issue from the protests.

“And I work the night shift – 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. – and you don’t know if you’re going to be able to see inside a vehicle with tinted windows at midnight. There’s a lot to worry about. You never know what you are going to find.”

Sometimes, though, the surprise turns out to be a good one.

“There was this one crazy situation,” he said. “A semi driver pulled over and called us to say she was choking on a pill she took. I rushed there and got her out. She was really choking, but I did the Heimlich maneuver and popped that pill out.”

She was OK.

She could breathe again.

She would be going home.