Earlier this summer, the Canadian Basketball program bid farewell to one of their most respected and loyal players in the history of the National Team. Levon Kendall had been with Team Canada for over 12 years, playing in more than 120 games, and participating in countless tournaments. After Canada lost to Team France in the Olympic Qualifying tournament earlier this summer, Kendall was honoured by family, friends, and teammates for all he had done for Canada’s Basketball team.
Born in Vancouver B.C., Kendall led his high school team to three provincial championships. He also captured the provincial MVP twice, even being personally congratulated by Hall of Famer Steve Nash (a fellow Vancouver native who is the most successful Canadian basketball player to date). Following his successful secondary school campaign, the 6’10 big man attended the University of Pittsburgh for 4 years. During his time with the Panthers, Kendall improved each season and was one of the team’s best defenders and rebounders. A major in Anthropology, Kendall was also recognized as a Big East Academic All-Star. Since graduating from Pittsburgh, Levon has played with multiple professional clubs in Europe beginning with Panionios of the Greek League and most recently with the Movistar Estudiantes of the ACB Spanish League.
Levon Kendall began his international basketball career when he joined Team Canada in 2004 for the Under-21 Americas Tournament. Kendall was outstanding averaging 11.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in 5 games of action. The following year was the most successful for Kendall when he averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds including a 40 point performance against Team USA. Team Canada went on to win the bronze medal in that tournament. Levon Kendall continued to participate in FIBA and Marchand Continental Cup Tournaments.
Prior to the summer of 2015, Team Canada had assembled arguably the most talented roster in club history after adding multiple players from the NBA. However, Kendall was hit with some of the scariest news a parent could hear. His 9-month old baby son Skyler was diagnosed with a brain tumour and ependymoma (a rare form of cancer). From that point on, basketball could not possibly be a focus for Kendall with his son having to undergo surgery followed by countless days of treatment. Levon and his wife Alexandra spent time at the Ronald McDonald house while Skyler recovered at Sick Kids Hospital. During the Qualifying Tournament, Team Canada was upset by Team Venezuela which prevented them from advancing to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Many people believe that Levon’s veteran presence and ability to remain calm under the spot light could have lifted Canada to victory. Canada Head Coach Jay Triano has showed his support to the Kendall family, visiting them in the hospital and calling him this past summer prior to the Manila Qualifying Tournament.
It has been quite an inspiring and positive story for a man like Levon Kendall. He has fought through adversity which has certainly impacted his career. After participating with Team Canada this past summer, Kendall was able to bid farewell on his own terms. It is unfortunate that he was never able to qualify for the Olympic Games, however, his family situation is now the biggest competition. Baby Skyler is now 2 years old and running around joyfully with his family. Levon, Alexandra, and Skyler continue to fight the deadly disease that have caused pain and struggles to many families around the world. Levon also recently started a landscaping company with his long time friend and clearly has plans to maintain a healthy lifestyle while supporting his family. This is a happy story that goes WAY beyond sports. Congratulations to a Legend of Canadian Basketball! All the best to Levon Kendall.