Kyle Ball wasn’t guaranteed playing time when he was told he would suit up for Kansas State, however he knew who he’d dedicate his game to: his 15-year old brother Caleb.
He plays for Caleb because he’s an inspiration to Kyle, and has taught him to not take anything for granted and to live in the moment.
The 2014 Shawnee Mission East alumnus lost his true freshman year of playing as he deferred his enrollment until the 2015 spring semester.
Then, there was a possibility of Kyle being redshirted this season so he could have an additional year of eligibility.
“It did stink not being with my class, my teammates, that I got to know that summer,” Ball said of the 2015 summer. “Not being able to do any football for a year was a downer. I helped coach my high school team — the freshman and the varsity on Fridays — it was a lot of fun to still be a part of football.
But on Oct. 22 — exactly one year after Caleb was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a type of blood and bone marrow cancer — Kyle had his number called in a home game against Texas.
And he made the most of the opportunity in his first game since helping the Lancers win the 2014 state championship.
On his first play of his collegiate career, Kyle, a defensive end, sacked Texas quarterback Shane Buechele.
Kyle has now appeared in three games and recorded another sack against Iowa State on Oct. 29, giving him two on the season, which is third most on the team.
While his parents didn’t get to see him play in the Texas game they did see him the past two games.
The wait was well worth it in Kyle’s eyes, who took classes at Johnson County, helped coach the Lancers’ freshman team, but most importantly, he helped Caleb, who is now in remission.
“In the long-run, I think it was a really good thing to do,” Kyle said. “I got a lot bigger during the fall too. I was able to focus on the things I needed to help develop myself.”
Kyle said he’s matured a lot in the past year as he’s learned to not be as care-free.
He added he and Caleb, and brother Calvin, who is currently a senior at SM East, have grown closer as brothers.
“Life can change very quickly and you have to be more responsible,” Kyle said. “Make each day as it is and enjoy what you can.”
Kyle said everybody came together as a family during the past year.
Since he was home during the day, Kyle would make lunch for Caleb, make sure he was feeling OK and took him for treatment at the hospital, which was difficult for Kyle to see Caleb go through.
“It’s very thoughtful of him,” Caleb said in a text message. “He has shown lots of support and helped out in the beginning a lot, helping me get to where I am now. I’d say not only Kyle, but my other brother Calvin too, have all grown a much stronger and loving relationship with each other through my experience.”
Caleb had to stop playing football, but doctors did give him good news.
“My doctor said that I should be able to play next year so that’ll be exciting to get back into football,” Caleb said.
Kyle and the Wildcats head to Waco, Texas, on Saturday to face Baylor. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m., and the game can be seen on ESPN2.