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Draper Journal

Utah cheer communities devastated after loss of former cheerleader, coach, mentor

Mar 05, 2019 02:37PM ● By Justin Adams

Kenrod James performs with Macs Legacy. (Photo Courtesy Macs Cheer)

By Jennifer Gardiner | [email protected]

Utah and California All-Star cheer teams are trying to come to terms with the devastating loss of one of their own who died when he was struck by a car following a cheerleading competition Feb. 2 near Palm Springs, California. 

Kenrod James, who had just turned 28 the day before, has been a staple in the cheer world for the last decade in Utah, cheering for Macs Allstar Cheer in Draper for several years before becoming one of their coaches. Prior to Macs, James coached for RAH Elite in Centerville. He was also a cheerleader at Weber State University, cheered for Universal Cheer Athletics and was currently an athlete with Cheer Force San Diego. 

Dorene Carter, James’ mother, said he used to visit his father and stepmother in Utah as a child and shortly after graduating high school. James moved to Utah where he began to follow his dreams. 

“He was so loving and was just a wonderful, easy kid, from the time he was a baby all the way through being an adult,” said Carter. “This is such a terrible loss and I never expected this to happy to Kenrod. I would never have thought I would have to bury my child, it happened so fast.”

James is remembered by all those whose lives he touched and for being not just a friend but a mentor to everyone he came in contact with.

Macs All-Star Cheer posted James was a beloved friend, son and mentor.

"Kenrod James was a friend to everyone and shared his generosity with all of us. We say goodbye to him today until we meet again," read the post. "We love you Kenny you will always be in our hearts. We will never forget you and the joy you brought into our lives."

Weber State University Cheer said they are at a complete loss for words over the loss of James.

"Tonight we mourn the loss of one of our own," read a post on Instagram. "Kenrod James was Family, a Teammate, a Friend and in his own words a Wildcat for Life! He was taken way too early yesterday in a tragic accident traveling to do what he loved most. Overwhelmed with so many memories...but our hike to the M is one that will never be forgotten. Thanks for ‘lifting’ us up and for always being you. Until we meet again. We love you! #LSWT" 

Recently, James moved to the San Diego area to join Cheer Force San Diego and had just performed on day one of the Spirit Sports: Duel in the Desert competition in Palm Springs. James died on his way home from the competition. His team, Nfinity Cheer Force, had to compete the next day with very broken hearts. 

Varsity TV posted the video of the performance, dedicated to their fallen teammate. In a moving show of support, the auditorium was filled with thousands of people who came to cheer on the team who chose to perform in his honor. There was not a dry eye in the place.

For the next two weeks, during the Varsity Cheer Athletic Championships in Salt Lake City and the JAMZ DI large gyms All-Star Cheer nationals in Las Vegas, tributes brought the crowds to tears. 

Cheer Force posted a huge thank you to those who came to support them.

"Simply, Thank You! To our beautiful cheer community: Our hearts are truly lifted from your show of solidarity and overwhelming love. Our brother smiles down and your warmth will help us come in from the cold," read a post on Cheer Force San Diego Facebook. 

Cheer Force San Diego said the events over the weekend will forever change their family.

"We will remember our brother daily. We will hug more. We will connect with each other. We will take each a minute with one another as the blessing it truly is & We Will Do It For You as you did for us. One Love RIP #4Kenrod"  

According to California Highway Patrol, James died after being struck by a car while he was standing on the I-10 freeway inspecting damage from a previous minor incident.

James was transported to San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital where he died about an hour later as a result of his injuries. 

A funeral was held for James on Saturday Feb. 16 in Riverside, Califonia, the same weekend as JAMZ.