Story by SGT Malcolm Cohens-Ashley on 06/13/2019Before the first pitch was thrown, ESPN with help of the University of Texas at Austin was able to capture the emotions of UT softball player Ki'Audra Hayter, as her brother La'Kedran Hayter was able to attend her senior day game after being away from his family for the past two years due to a military tour overseas. The video coverage of this surprise has been played on various media outlets and has over 17,000 views.
Sergeant La'Kedran Hayter, a patriot launching station enhanced operator assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment was able to surprise his sister, Ki'Audra Hayter, a softball player for the University of Texas at Austin during senior day on May 5, 2019 at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas.
Prior to this surprise event, La'Kedran and Ki'Audra had not seen each other in roughly two years due to his service in the United States Army.
La'Kedran and his sister Ki'Audra are natives of Nacogdoches, Texas, a town referred to as "the oldest town in Texas." They were raised in a two-parent household alongside their sibling Ty'Kearon. Growing up, they challenged each other in athletics, as well as supporting and cheering each other on in their respective sport.
Some of the lessons they learned through sports at an early age would be the same lessons that would carry them to greater accomplishments in their lifetime.
"The most valuable lessons that I have learned growing up is probably the value of pride, ownership, dedication, discipline, and no matter what always keep God first," said La'Kedran. "Our parents have always taught us to take pride in everything that we do."
Hard work, dedication and discipline are also some of the many qualities that have led him to join and excel in the United States Army.
La'Kedran joined the Army on May 5, 2013. Part of his inspiration to join came from a life-long friend who also joined the Army. He has served for six years and plans to retire after 20 years of service. He has been stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and has deployed to Kuwait and Okinawa, Japan.
Although the family he was born to have played a major role in his life, his wife and two-year-old son now provide an even greater source of inspiration.
"The support from my immediate family is the best," he stated. "They give nothing but a constant flow of positive energy."
Today, he serves as a squad leader for the 4th squad launcher platoon, Delta Battery, 1-1 ADA in Kadena Air Base, Japan. He is currently scheduled to return back to Fort Hood, Texas in July to continue to train, motivate and lead Soldiers.
"I have a personal goal to leave a positive influence on at least one soldier a day," he remarked. "My goal expands far beyond my squad and place of duty but throughout the entire Army."
While he paved his way through the military, Ki'Audra chose another path that would also require hard work, dedication and discipline.
From the time she was a child, she had been playing softball with hopes to one day take her talent to a greater stage filled with challenge, but also the opportunity for eternal glory. Upon graduating high school she attended the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas and Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas where she continued to play softball. In 2017 she helped Butler Community College win its second National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Championship.
After graduating from Butler Community College, she went on to fulfill her lifelong dream.
"I played my last two years of eligibility at the University of Texas at Austin," said Ki'Audra. "I was blessed to be on a scholarship all four years of college."
She was named to the 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team and she also made sports center top 10 on March 4, 2018 for a magnificent running catch in the outfield.
Currently, she has entered her senior year at UT. She is projected to graduate in December of 2019 with a major in Youth & Community Studies, a minor in Kinesiology and a certificate in Forensic Science.
Through her years at UT she has created countless memories, but one of the greatest moments of her student and athletic career came in May of 2019, when her brother was able to surprise her during senior day at her softball game.
After not seeing him for nearly two years, she would be in for the surprise of a lifetime.
"When I saw my brother emerge from the dugout it took me a minute to process what was really going on," she stated. "I eventually became weak and fell to my knees, I couldn't hold back the tears."
As they embraced for the first time in years, the crowd stood to their feet and cheered.
"In that moment my heart was happy because I finally had my family back together again, my family felt complete," she recalled. "My whole family could walk me down the field on one of the biggest days of my life."
Overwhelming emotions filled the hearts of those who looked on and tears of joy filled the eyes of families and teammates alike. Her goal of playing softball for UT had come to fruition and her brother there to witness; it was a dream come true.
"For my brother to hear me talk about it for so many years and actually see it develop in person and see our last name on the back of a Texas jersey was an indescribable feeling for me," she stated.