Local Basketball Star-Turned-Poet Touches Hearts And Opens Minds
Fraught with sadness and anger, Keasha Beard plummeted into a deep depression for over two years.
Now in her early 20s, Beard is back on her feet with a smile on her face. She has created her own destiny by way of “The K. Beard Experience,” a spoken word poetry show of enormous subject variety which incorporates story-telling, poetry and hip hop rhythm.
Starting at the beginning, Beard grew up, as she describes, “basically poor.” She lived with her father, who was rarely home, and most often had to take care of herself; sometimes even having to solicit the neighbors for cash to go get something to eat from the 7-11.
One thing Beard did have that was all her own, was basketball, and she was extraordinary at it.
“I grew up alone,” says Beard, “and I knew that basketball was the only way out of Seattle, so I put my all into the game.”
Beard used basketball as a means of escape from the trials of her young life.
By the time she reached high school, she was considered one of the best point guards in the state of Washington. She secured an athletic scholarship to New Mexico State University, was written about in High School Sports Magazine, and had a role in the acclaimed documentary “The Heart of the Game.”
Beard injured herself in high school, severely damaging her leg. She had surgery to fix the problem, however it did not work and her leg ended up healing at a 45 degree angle. She attempted to play basketball for New Mexico State, but as she says she “ended up being on the injured reserve list” for the entire season.
The pain from all the pressure on her leg was unbearable, and she had to give it up. Doctors were telling her if she did not stop playing basketball, by the time she was 40 she would be unable to walk.
This is where she slipped into the dark hole of depression. She says she felt sad and angry and had no way to deal with it. Growing up, when she was dealing with difficult issues she would just go play basketball and not have to think about it. Now, she had to face things head on; her outlet no longer available to her.
After leaving college she returned home to live with her grandparents. She humorously describes in her show the rules laid out before her by her grandmother. “My grandmother told me I either had to go to school or get a job,” says Beard.
In the meantime, life was getting harder. “I wanted to die,” states Beard plain and simply.
And she tried to do just that.
“I was so far gone that I tried to commit suicide and the only reason why I’m alive today is because of my grandmother, who found me and rushed me to the hospital.”
Beard had gone into the bathroom and swallowed half a bottle of Aleve.
In her piece entitled “Priceless” Beard describes this event. She begins by talking about family.
“I don’t think people appreciate their families enough,” she says.
In great detail, Beard discusses how although dysfunction ran rapid through her family, they are still the most important aspect of her life. She has a brother she claims has “been to juvy more than anyone she knows,” and an uncle who has been in and out of prison. Her mother always lived far away, and her father was rarely around.
Despite all this, however, Beard says she loves her family simply because no matter what she may do, they will always be right there for her.
“You’ll eventually have to go home,” she says.
One of her uncle, says Beard, has the “greatest quote.” He says “you can love your family, but you don’t gotta like ‘em.” Beard laughs as she says this, and attests to its truth.
Beard was put into therapy after her suicide attempt. She saw several different therapists who put her on several different types of antidepressants; none, she says, worked at all.
“One of those drugs had me seeing things!” Beard exclaimed.
It was not until she saw the “old man” therapist that she began to come up. He had her keep a journal of her daily activities or simply what she was thinking; whether she wrote in prose or poetry did not matter.
“I just snapped awake,” says Beard.
This is where the change began. Like many others, Beard had lost her job and was having a nightmare of a time finding a new one.
“The idea for the show kind of came out of no where,” she says.
Two things she knew, though, were she liked to write and she liked to entertain people.
“So I combined my spoken word, my knack for making people laugh, and my unique way of storytelling,” says Beard. “It took me eight months to put everything together, but ever since my first show, it has been taking off fast. Faster than I ever thought it would.”
The K. Beard Experience implements a very simple stage, with no props or backdrops, just her presence.
The show touches on several subjects. Beard gets personal in describing her rise in basketball, her fall into depression, and her climb back out of the hole. She also talks about world issues, such as the current economic recession and even has a bit regarding the child prostitution problem seen in so many parts of the world.
The K. Beard Experience sends audience members free falling through an atmosphere of emotions; they laugh, they cry, they ponder. Beard says she likes to start the show off on a light note, get more serious but leave the audience feeling good again at the end.
Beard’s family is also involved with her show. Her uncle, Chad Miller, and his wife Correna Miller worked the door at her show on July 18th.
“I am so proud of her,” says Chad. “She’s come a long way. She grew up in the not-best parts of town and has made the best out of a difficult situation.”
Correna has great affection for the show.
“I think it is phenomenal,” she says. “It is entertaining but inspirational and touching.”
Beard believes her best bit in the show is “War of the Worlds.” This piece is about many of the skewed ideals we see world wide, such as the “love of money.”
“Why does money have to be our main religion?” raps Beard.
She describes how selfish people can be; how the value of a necklace seems to be in the forefront of a person’s mind, rather than how the value of that necklace could be used to feed children who are starving to death.
Beard talks about all the warring between nations and the obsession with looking young; all the creams and make ups, and Botox injections. “This ain’t Neverland,” she says. “That ain’t fairy dust and MAC ain’t Tinkerbell.”
Beard says there is a war in the world, and it is reality. “…And Tom Cruise can’t save us.”
Beard is now taking her show nationwide, with her next gig to be in Portland, OR.
For a full calendar, go to www.kbexp.com. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook and other networking sites; all can be found on her website.
Here’s a video interview of her: