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Sporting Kansas City centerback Kortne Ford goes blonde to honor late mom

Kortne Ford blonde hair
Posted at 4:18 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 17:24:45-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You won't be able to miss Sporting Kansas City centerback Kortne Ford on the field Sunday at Children's Mercy Park — and that was the goal.

Ford returned from the international break with bleached blonde hair — an homage to his late mother, Laurie, who died from cancer in December.

MLS Crew Sporting KC Soccer
Sporting Kansas City defender Kortne Ford, left, kicks the ball away from Columbus Crew midfielder Darlington Nagbe during the first half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Kansas City, Kan.

“When my mom would watch me play games, she said it was easy to tell where I’m at on the field with the blonde hair and the bright shoes,” Ford said.

Laurie was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009, shortly after she won full custody of Kortne and they fled his father’s abuse to resettle in Colorado.

After a 12-year battle with cancer, Laurie discontinued treatment in November 2021 and a month later was gone.

“Obviously, losing her in December, I try to do a few things still the same just to try and honor her,” said Kortne, who grew up in Olathe until moving to Colorado at age 12. “I still keep wearing the bright shoes, and every now and again I dye my hair back blonde. It’s really just in her memory, it’s something I like doing and, ever since I started doing it a couple months back, I throw it in the mix every now and again.”

Ford, who missed nearly three seasons with a knee injury before signing with Sporting KC this offseason, has appeared in 10 games, including eight starts this season. He knows Laurie would be proud of his perseverance.

“I know she wouldn’t be surprised,” Kortne said. “There were times during that stretch that I was injured that, without a doubt, she never doubted that I was going to be back at this point even when there was the slightest bit of doubt that creeped into my mind.”

Not having Laurie around to share in his career renaissance is tough.

“I miss it a lot,” Ford said. “It’s still a fresh wound. It’s still soon enough that sometimes I get in the car and think about calling her. It sucks, but at the same time I know that she’s proud of me.”

During the recent international break, Kortne went back to Colorado to “step away from the field” and “recover mentally.”

Sporting KC sits last in the MLS Western Conference standings with only 13 points from 15 games after enduring a rash of injuries, including losing Designated Players Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda for the season to knee injuries.

SKC Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes gave his players four days off from training for “a physical and mental break,” but there are a lot of guys still working to return from injury as the club resumes MLS play at 2 p.m. Sunday against the New England Revolution at Children’s Mercy Park.

Forward Johnny Russell (knee) is “probably ahead of all those guys,” but he said right back Graham Zusi (thigh) and forward Khiry Shelton (knee) are progressing.

Left back Logan Ndenbe (shoulder) also was questionable headed into the international break.

Vermes didn’t sound optimistic that forward Nikola Vujnovic (calf) would be back as quickly.

Forwards Daniel Salloi (Hungary) and Marinos Tzionis (Cyprus) remain away on international duty.

“There’s a lot of guys with nagging injuries that were playing through them, including myself,” Kortne said. “So, it was really nice to go into that time and get some time off from training to allow us to recuperate.”

Now, Sporting KC (3-8-4) aims to get back on track and try and push up the table in the second half of the season.

“It’s really important for us to put the first half of the season behind us,” Kortne said. “As of now, it’s out of our control, and what’s in our control is what we’re doing from here game in and game out. We’ve sat down as a group, and we understand what it’s going to take for us to get back in the playoff picture and make a run.”