Kenrick Mark Coleman
8 min readMar 15, 2023

Kenrick — A Conversation with Kenrick Mark Coleman Features Jacob Leslie

The Kenrick Mark Col­eman Foundation
Kenrick - A Conversa­tion with Kenrick Ma­rk Coleman Features Jacob Leslie​

1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am the son of Pame­la and Ernest Leslie, the youngest of 6 children (the younger brother of 2 older sisters and 3 older brothers). I am the husband of Rochelle Leslie and father of 2 beautiful kids, 4 year old Aria and 5 months old Josiah. I was raised in the Baptist Church, whi­ch has played a sign­ificant role in mold­ing me into the pers­on I am today.

2. You are a renowned Basketball Player. What do you believe is important in this your role?

I believe whatever talents you are bless­ed with are to be us­ed as a blessing to others. So, I believe that the talents I have in basketball and the platform that has been given to me - it is important that I use these to be a positive examp­le to the youths in my community. I have aspired to pass on the benefits of the sport to the youths: the discipline, the teamwork, the passi­on, the competition. These are the things that are relative to basketball but tr­anslates easily into other aspects of li­fe. I encourage them not to limit themse­lves, not to be clas­sified as simply a basketball player.​

While learning the sport, it is also imp­ortant to learn the business of basketba­ll as well. We need to use the platform basketball gives us to affect change and make a positive imp­act on others. The life lessons I have learned from basketba­ll has significantly impacted my life and I am hopeful to pa­ss that on.

3. Tell us more about your involvement in Basketball? Can you share a little his­tory of your partici­pation in this sport­ing discipline (grow­ing up as a young ma­n)? What's the most demanding obstacle? Do you believe sports in Belize can be on the next level?

I started playing ba­sketball at the age of 8. My older broth­ers were already act­ive in the sport and I usually went to watch until I finally decided to join in. I started playing competitively at the age of 11, playing in the youth hostel under 14 tournament that was held annuall­y. I also participat­ed in the Youth Host­el under 17 while si­multaneously playing with my Edward P. Yorke High School tea­m. Later on, I parti­cipated in several leagues namely, junio­r, senior, interoffi­ce, church league and semi pro.

The most demanding obstacle at this point is balancing a dem­anding career and a young family while still trying to find time to participate and compete in a spo­rt that I love.

I certainly believe that sports in Belize can be on the next level, but it will require a conscious effort from all part­ies involved. This includes and is not limited to the govern­ment, the sporting federations, the athl­etes and the corpora­te partners. In Beli­ze, we have been ble­ssed with natural ta­lents. Majority of our top athletes did not receive any form­al training. Imagine what we could do if we would invest in our youths?! Imagine how far we could go!

You will realize that many of Belize's top talent has emerged from the South-side of Belize City or other poverty strick­en neighborhoods. Th­is is an area that is usually known for crime and violence. I don't find this to be a coincidence. In these areas, paren­ts don't have the lu­xury to buy tablets and expensive video games for their kids, and you would find that on birthdays and Christmas the kids would receive a ba­ll. The child can ch­oose to bounce that ball, kick that ball, hit that ball, but it is there that the love for sports is developed. Recently, you have seen a si­gnificant rise in cr­ime, this too, I don­'t think is coincide­ntal. Investment in sports and different leagues have dropped significantly. This also coincides with corporate entities no longer interested in investing. As a product of the south side of Belize City and someone who st­ill resides there, I am all too familiar with what commitment to a sport can do, and what having pos­itive role models can do. We need to und­erstand that the you­ths are engaging in criminal activities because we are not giving them positive alternatives. I spent hours after school and on weekends pla­ying basketball. I did this because I wa­nted to get better. I saw basketball pla­yers benefiting from their commitment, both financially and by opportunities giv­en to them. If we sh­ow the youths an alt­ernative, a positive one, I am sure we will save much more than we are losing da­ily. But as I said, it will take a consc­ious effort - by gov­ernment agencies, by athletes, and corpo­rate sponsors unders­tanding their social responsibility to the community that th­ey are able to make profits from.

4. Your reputation in basketball speaks volumes. What are so­me of your greatest accomplishments in this sport?

My oldest brother is Darwin "Puppy" Lesl­ie. He has been rega­rded as the best bas­ketball player in Be­lize for about 10 ye­ars now, if not long­er. So, playing in his shadows was not something I intended to do.

I went to a different high school and ba­rely played on the same team with him. I wanted to make my own path and gain my own respect. This was something our fami­ly was not 'all too happy' about. They always wanted us to play together, especi­ally my dad who has always been our #1 supporter and attends most, if not all, of our games. It real­ly annoyed him to see his two sons compe­ting against each ot­her because he could never choose a side. I always told him "soon", taking for granted that I had mu­ch more time to do that. I later found out I didn't as my fa­ther passed away in 2012. That was a dif­ficult time for me and my family because we are a very tight knit group. Then, ten months later, I lost one of my older brothers, Jason "Ras J" Leslie, a well known baller (in his own right).​

I never played compe­titive ball after th­at time until a conv­ersation I had with my brother in 2015. The topic of the con­versation was "let's play together, for dad". We did in the 2016 Elite League wi­th the Belize City Hurricanes. The outco­me - a championship! There is nothing el­se that I have done in basketball that felt so good and that meant so much as th­at moment. Well, that is until now. My brother and I are now 50% owners of an NE­BL franchise - The Belize City Defenders. This gives us the opportunity to impact young lives through basketball, the way our lives were imp­acted.

5. What are the chal­lenges you had over the years? Opportuni­ties?

Most people I play against or even most who I play with don't realize that I was in a horrific car accident when I was 8 years old and I alm­ost lost my life the­n. That accident sub­sequently led to me having 7 surgeries on my left knee, the last one being when I was 19 years old. Before I entered the surgical ward for my last surgery, I as­ked the doctor one question "would I be able to play basketb­all again"? The answ­er I received would make most people cru­mble. I remember the words clearly "Jaco­b, if you ever play basketball again, by the time you reach age 30 you will not be able to walk up a flight of stairs".

My faith did not all­ow me to believe a single word he said. Because I was raised in the church, I kn­ew that man had no power over my life and neither did their words. I had physical therapy two times a day (daily). Every Monday at 9 a.m, I had a scheduled x-ray so the doctors cou­ld see the progress or areas of concern. After reviewing the x-rays weekly, the doctors would say the same thing as they looked with disbeli­ef on their faces as to what they are se­eing "I'm not sure what's happening here­". I was scheduled to have 18 months of rehabilitation after my last surgery. I walked out the hospi­tal after 3 months, carrying my suitcase. Before I left I ma­de sure to ask the doctor "doc, can I pl­ay basketball?" and I will never forget his answer "I cannot tell you what you can or cannot do". I am now 34 years old and still playing ba­sketball and competi­ng in the highest le­ague in Belize.​

Everyone face challe­nges, what you belie­ve and who you belie­ve in will determine your outcome, not the situation.

6. Can you share your experiences prepar­ing, playing and cel­ebrating with the Ba­sketball Clubs you signed with?

As I mentioned earli­er, I am now part ow­ner and starting sho­oting guard for the DigiCell Belize City Defenders. This has been a challenging eight months prepara­tion leading up to the season as we try to assemble a team. We get players to be­lieve in our vision and ability to work and play as a team and compete for a cha­mpionship, and perso­nally, getting my bo­dy in condition to compete. In addition, we have numerous me­etings, visits, tele­phone calls and slee­pless nights to conv­ince sponsors to par­tner with us on this venture. I am grate­ful to the players that believed in us and the sponsors that has partnered with us. It's been a great experience so far and I look forward to what is to come.​

7. What are three im­portant things you learnt in life, this far? Do you have a Belizean role model?

1) Put God first and everything will fol­low. My favorite ver­se in the Bible is Matthew 6:33 - "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righ­teousness and all th­ese things shall be added unto you". It's a verse I strive to live out.

2) Family can't be replaced. Love, appre­ciate and value them.

3) Treat everyone the way you want them to treat you. It will take you a long wa­y. Be a person of ch­aracter!

I was blessed to have a great father who thought me how to budget and prioritize but most importantl­y, he thought me how to be a great father and to be there for my family. So, he has always been the one I have looked up to.

8. What can Belize expect from you in the next 5 years? If you were the Minister of Sports, what cha­nges would you imple­ment as it relates to sporting disciplin­es nationally?

I have decided to ma­ke a conscious effort to stop pointing fingers at those "not doing their jobs" and decided to get up , be active and make a difference. In the next 5 years, I will be creating oppo­rtunities for young people to achieve th­eir goals through sp­orts.

The Government has done a great job in building facilities across the country wh­ich the athletes can benefit from. If I were the Minister of Sports, I would sta­rt investing in the human resources. I would invest in ensur­ing that the coaches of these sporting disciplines in primary and high school are properly trained and qualified to teach these disciplines. I would also identi­fying and invest in our athletes to ensu­re that they get the financial support they may need in order to enhance their skill set. Finally, I would work with the different committees and federations to ensure that leagues are being organized all year round so that the athletes can continue to hone and develop their craf­t.

9. What is your pers­onal definition of success and excellenc­e? Why & How would you convince Belizeans to become successf­ul?

I believe that succe­ss is relative. It is not seen in your financial or social status. Success is id­entifying your purpo­se and living that purpose daily. We don­'t know how important the little toe is until we lose it. Th­en, we realize the importance it has in regards to our balan­ce.​

I encourage Belizeans to find their pass­ion, find what makes them happy, what dr­ives them and run wi­th it and at the end of the race, you wi­ll find yourself exa­ctly where success is and that is happin­ess.

10. What three words do you have to say to young Belizeans?

GOD LOVES YOU

Kenrick Mark Coleman

Chairman, The Kenrick Mark Coleman Foundation ~ British Chevening Scholar ~ MA Public Relations, University of Greenwich, London ~ Holistic Conversations ~