Cayman Islands sprinter Kemar Hyman has faced some tough races in his career, but none more so than at the prestigious Drake relays in Iowa on Saturday. The athlete competed just 24 hours after learning his brother and “inspiration” Maxwell Hyman had died.
“I knew he would want me to run,” said Kemar, “so I ran for him.”
Maxwell Hyman, 29, died Friday in hospital in Miami less than a year after being diagnosed with lupus, a disease that impacts the immune system.
He was a respected athlete in his own right who competed for the Cayman Islands in various disciplines at the CARIFTA Games and Central American and Caribbean Games. He was also part of the Cayman Islands gold medal-winning sprint relay team at the 2009 Island Games in Aland, Finland. His preferred events were the 400 meter hurdles and 200 meter sprint.
Brothers Maxwell and Kemar were less than a year apart in age and were inseparable growing up.
“We went to college together, graduated together. He was always there for me, he inspired me to become who I am right now,” said Kemar.
“He was qualifying for meets and was faster than me at one point. He gave me the motivation to progress, to never miss a meet, to always strive for the best – that’s what he taught me as a young man growing up.
“It is really a sad loss for our family. We are trying to hang in there and be there for each other.”
The brothers attended King University together on track scholarships, later transferring to Florida State where they were teammates on the college track team.
After graduation, Maxwell took a job at PwC in the Cayman Islands, while Kemar’s career took him around the globe to various track meets.
“Wherever I was competing in the world, I would always call him and tell him about it.”
Just last month, Kemar’s track career hit new heights with a 5th place finish in the Commonwealth Games.
But he quickly came down from that high to the low of learning his brother’s condition had worsened and he had been transferred to hospital in Miami.
“I didn’t even have a small celebration; it was right back to reality. I got off a 24-hour flight and heard he was in hospital.
“I went down to see him the next day. We hadn’t been together since January and to see him again in a different state was heartbreaking. I hope he knows that everyone loved him and was there for him.”
He said there had been an outpouring of love and support for the family from a tight network of cousins and friends of Maxwell.
“He was a light that shined in many of his friends’ lives. Everyone had a story to tell about Max.
“He was a happy, funny guy – a peacemaker. He would never do anything to hurt anyone. He was always joyful.”
Kemar said he and his brother were “like twins” and enjoyed travelling together, and had been planning a trip later this year.
“It is sad to see him go, to see my mum cry, We just have to hang in there and be there for each other.”