Taylor family photo
If you’re keeping a scorebook at home, credit the Bonzai softball team with an assist and a few sacrifices. They won the Sandy league championship recently, and along the way they made Kevin Webb part of the team and brought some joy to his life.
Kevin has a large facial birthmark and a litany of health challenges that draw stares and occasional derision. He’s got bones that snap like kindling (he’s sporting another cast these days). He’s got a neuromuscular system that goes haywire without medication. His left side needs a reboot.
He’s not even supposed to be alive.
The only thing that always seems to work is the smile, even if it is a little crooked.
Kevin was left behind by his peers a long time ago. He lives for connections with the world outside his home — which is why he is on the phone so much — especially the connection he has made with the softball team, a group of high school friends in their mid-20s. They gave Kevin acceptance, love, friendship, the title of coach and a trophy.
It seemed only karmic that they won the championship.
“The team loves Kevin,” says Riley Taylor. “It’s worth it just to see how excited he gets.”
“Kevin is a special person, and we love having him as our coach,” says Taylor’s cousin, Harrison Taylor. “No doubt he’s the heart of the team.”
The first thing the boys did after winning the championship was gather around Kevin for his traditional post-game ceremony, which includes a speech and — wait for it — a long, drawn-out wolf cry. Then they handed him the trophy, lifted him on their shoulders and posed for photos.
“That was an electric moment,” says Dave Taylor, who has three sons on the team and has known Kevin for much of his life. “I’ll never forget it.”
When all was said and done, the players sent the trophy home with Kevin, where it remains on a table just inside the front door.
“He woke me up at 11:30 to tell me all about it,” says Kevin’s older brother, Brent. “He’s done that all season — he comes home and talks about the games. I can’t say enough good about those guys on the team. They were phenomenal with Kevin, and it’s meant so much to him. They really lifted his spirits after all the negative things that have happened to him.”
Kevin’s mother Opal passed away more than a year ago at 88; his father Arnold passed away in April at 92. Brent, who had promised his parents he would take care of Kevin after they were gone, moved into his parents’ home.
Kevin, who is 49, had lived with his parents his entire life. From the start, he had medical problems. He is prone to seizures and has a partial paralysis in his left side that is slowly sneaking into the right side.
“Doctors didn’t think he’d live past 20,” says Brent.
Over the years, doctors were able to tweak Kevin’s medications to control the seizures (he hasn’t had one in 25 years), but there is a long list of other problems.
The right side of his face is nearly covered by a dark, wine-colored birthmark. According to Brent, the birthmark is not just superficial – it extends into his brain and his mouth, creating deformity and pushing his teeth off to the left, which makes eating difficult.