Flint Water Crisis Hits Home For Kyle Kuzma

When Runnin’ Ute Kyle Kuzma visited his hometown of Flint, Mich. this past May for about 10 days, he noticed a rash was developing on his stomach and it wasn’t even something that came as a shock to the junior.

Before going home, Kuzma had spoken to his family and a few of his friends from the Flint area and they cautioned him about what was going on. When the rashes started to appear, it was something he expected, something he knew was bound to happen as a result of taking a few showers — and being exposed to the lead-contaminated water the entire city of Flint has been plagued with for nearly three years.

Kyle says growing up in a city like Flint was difficult. The opportunities to make it out are few and far between and, for Kyle, that outlet was basketball, but options were limited.

“It’s either go to school, get good grades and go to college, or play a sport and go to college, or we have a lot of rappers within the city, because those are the only main outlets you can get to,” Kyle said. “If you don’t go through them you’re probably in the streets, and I’ve had a lot of friends in the street go to jail, and even die because of being in the streets.”

Coming to Utah has changed his life for the better and his mother is proud of what he has been able to accomplish.

While some parents are emotional when their children leave home for college, Karri was happy that Kyle was going somewhere better. Though she was sad that she wouldn’t be able to see him on a daily basis, she was relieved knowing her son would be “safer” somewhere else.

Kyle is appreciative of his life in Utah.

“It’s just a blessing that you can get out of that environment, better your life and see that there’s more to life than violence and crime,” Kuzma said. “That’s like taboo out here — if you hear somebody gets shot, everyone freaks out, but back home, it’s every day — it’s a current.”

Lifetime recently announced they were going to film a movie about the Flint water crisis starring Cher, and it received a lot of backlash on social media for being insensitive. People thought that it was disrespectful of the company to make a movie about an issue that has yet to be resolved. Kyle saw both the positive and the negatives to it.

Kyle thinks it could help bring back more awareness to crisis, but he acknowledges the insensitive part as well, in a sense that people could just be looking to make a profit from it. Although Kyle is removed from Flint, he does realize the power he has being a starter for a Pac-12 basketball team, and he’ll continue to use his voice to make sure the people in his hometown aren’t another passing headline.

“It’s pretty limited what I can do, because I’m a college student with no money really — just a platform to gain awareness for people,” Kuzma said. “I’m always tweeting, or talking about Flint because it’s really dear to me and my heart, so that’s the only thing I can do until something presents itself for me.”

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.