Column: Kory Blunt is making his father proud with help from dad’s friends

Birmingham point guard Kory Blunt poses for a photo
Birmingham point guard Kory Blunt is the son of former San Fernando two-sport star Sean Blunt.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

There’s never a basketball game during which Kory Blunt can’t look up into the bleachers and see one of his father’s friends from their San Fernando High days rooting for him. It’s as if his father’s friends made a pact they’d watch over Kory every time he plays.

“They truly want to help me. I like it. He knew a lot of people,” Kory said.

“It’s so awesome,” said his mother, Kim.

In August 2014, Sean Blunt, who was an All-City defensive back at San Fernando, a Nevada Las Vegas Hall of Famer and former football coach at San Fernando, died of colon cancer. He was 48. His youngest son, Kory, was 9. He, Kim, and older brother Kameron were not left alone to grieve. Many of Sean’s former teammates stepped forward to offer support.

“It was hard,” Kory said. “My whole family was distraught. We were all down for a couple of months. I had to have faith we’d get through it as a family. My mom and my dad’s friends reached out.”


Kory was a running back in youth football, but by seventh grade, he decided basketball would be the sport to focus on. Before Sean got sick, Kory and his dad, a former basketball player at San Fernando, would spend nights in the Tigers’ gym practicing. Before they’d head home in the car, Sean always asked, “Did you have fun?”

Fast forward to 2022. Kory will celebrate his 17th birthday next month as a 6-foot-2 rising junior point guard for Lake Balboa Birmingham, the defending City Section Open Division champions. He’s one of the most improved players in the City Section, averaging 14.4 points. When a game gets close, he goes into attack mode, showing a fearlessness his father always displayed in football and basketball.

“Beast mode he’d say,” Kory said.

He has helped Birmingham reach the Open Division semifinals. The Patriots will face host Fairfax on Tuesday.

Kory has learned to use his strength to drive to the basket. He spends hours in the gym working to become a more consistent shooter. Every time he shows off his athleticism, it’s a flashback to the early 1980s, when his father was a two-sport star.

“I sit there and watch Kory,” said former San Fernando and Cal running back Chris Richards. “He’s got a skill set like his father but more polished because he’s concentrated on that one sport.”

Birmingham assistant coach Shawn Bankhead grew up in Pacoima and knew Kory’s father. He started working with Kory as a 9-year-old. His daughter, Samari, a top freshman girls’ player at L.A. Windward, would play against Kory.

“It’s a blessing all his dad’s friends coming out to support him,” Bankhead said.

Not long before his death, his father was baptized in a ceremony at the family home. Sean’s friends and family helped put him in the pool. It was tough for Kory because his father had deteriorated so much, losing weight and strength.

“He was very skinny, in bad shape,” he said. “I couldn’t look at it. I couldn’t see my dad like that.”

It’s the fifth anniversary of a playoff doubleheader that featured nearly two dozen future college basketball players, five who made it to the NBA.

Sean wanted his sons to know that their mother and his friends would always have their back.

“His boys meant everything to him,” Richards said.

Sean’s friends continue to watch over Kory even if it’s from afar. With COVID-19, it was tougher to maintain relationships. Attending games was for family only. Except Sean’s friends will always be Kory’s extended family.

“We’re there for him,” Richards said.

Kim, a San Fernando graduate, says Sean “would be so proud” of his teenage son.

Said Kory: “I know he would want me to keep playing sports. And I enjoy it. I’m carrying along his legacy.”