David Solomon’s earliest memory of the Carter boys happened before he even knew them. He remembers Josh and Warren, younger brothers to Kevin, walking home after school, stopping occasionally to shoot a few baskets on the goal outside his house.
It was a sign of things to come. All three of the brothers played for Lake Highlands High School, and Josh and Warren are currently making plays on NCAA courts and giving the announcers plenty to talk about.
The Carter brothers were, in fact, brought up on our neighborhood courts. But perhaps more importantly, when the rug was pulled out from underneath them, they were hoisted up by neighbors in true Lake Highlands style.
It was about six years ago when their mother, Kamela Carter, made a series of bad choices that she says stole three years of her life and took her to prison, away from her boys. Kevin was a senior, Warren a sophomore and Josh an eighth-grader when Kamela left.
“It was pretty difficult,” Josh says. “I was still a little boy, a little momma’s boy.”
The boys were private, but basketball provided an outlet. Kevin and Warren both played varsity. Josh was on the junior high team, but he came to the gym and shot hoops while Kevin and Warren practiced.
“It gave me something (else) to think about,” Josh says.
“All three of them would be in the locker room (after practice),” LHHS coach Rob Wylie says. “They would be some of the last to leave.”
Slowly, word started trickling out into the neighborhood about the boys’ situation.
“The high school basketball coach’s wife called and asked me about Kevin,” Cathey Roberts recalls. “She said he was really tired at school and wasn’t himself.”
Kevin was, in fact, struggling — to work and support his brothers while also going to school. When neighbors learned this, people like the Roberts, the Solomons and others knew they needed to pitch in and help.
“They took a part in raising my children with me,” Kamela says.
The camaraderie of the neighborhood began as soon as the Carters moved to Lake Highlands in 1993, with offers of carpooling or a new pair of tennis shoes. But this situation required more. Neighbors helped prepare Kevin for the SAT, took the boys shopping, and raised funds to help pay their bills.
After Kevin left for college, Cathey and her husband, Gene, built two rooms onto their home — one for Warren and the other for Josh. They wanted stability for the boys. Their rooms are still there for them when they have a chance to come home.
But Lake Highlanders are reluctant to take credit for the success of the Carter boys, now men. They direct all of that toward Kamela. And she, in turn, is quick to praise her children.
“They stayed focused and strong for me,” she says. “For me being able to stay strong in there, I needed to know they were strong out here.”
It was basketball that linked and sustained the Carter men, and that continues today. Kamela often wonders why the people who try to dredge up her past, asking questions about her incarceration, don’t ask the most important one — what are the Carters up to now?
Warren, a former 5A Texas Player of the Year, is blossoming in his senior season at the University of Illinois. He’s leading the team with 13.6 points a game.
“Whenever he’s on TV, I get excited,” Josh says. “I get more nervous watching him than when I play.”
Josh is thriving as a sophomore at Texas A&M. He’s a starter on the team, and is shooting 49 percent from beyond the three-point line.
“He’s probably my best friend,” Warren says. “For him to go there (A&M) and have the success he’s had, I couldn’t be happier.”
Kevin might have been the most talented brother, but he sacrificed to help his family. He went on to play ball at Collin County Community College. In December, he graduated from Texas A&M-Commerce with a master’s degree in business.
Kamela attends Josh and Warren’s games when she can, but she also has a lot of dreams and goals to catch up on. After her incarceration, Kamela studied to be a paralegal. She also manages a grocery store.
The Carters are resilient, ready to see what life will bring them next.
“We survived,” Kamela says.