SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — For more than 30 years, Kevin Richardson had dreams of coming to Syracuse University. On Monday, Sept. 6, 2019, that dream became a reality.
“It’s surreal. It hit me when I touched the ground here. It’s become full circle for me,” Richardson said. “As a kid, I wanted to come here, but quite honestly, I didn’t know if I would come out of prison.”
In 1989, Richardson was just 14. He had a love for the trumpet and sports.
Like many young boys in New York City, he was in awe of Derrick Coleman and Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, two of the greatest basketball players in SU history.
“I was a big fan of the Big East in the ’80s. I was a huge fan of that and I was involved in music, so I wanted to do two things. I wanted to be an athlete and do music and Syracuse jumped out to me,” Richardson said.
Those dreams of coming to Syracuse University were cut short when Richardson, along with Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise, all teenagers at the time, were convicted of a brutal rape in Central Park they never committed. They soon became known as “The Central Park 5.”
Instead of enjoying life, they were stuck behind prison bars, not knowing if the truth would ever come out. Eventually, another man confessed to the crime.
Richardson said, “Just going through this whole ordeal, it’s a miracle to what I have and my other brothers endured.”
Their story was chronicled in the critically-acclaimed Netflix series “When They See Us.” As a result, they were known as “The Exonerated 5.”
During an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Netflix, Richardson mentioned his love for Syracuse University, which led to his visit to campus. It started with Rachel Vassel and the Office of Multi-cultural Advancement, in addition to conversations among Black and Brown alumni.
Those conversations led to a special reception held in honor of Richardson. First, he received a personalized jersey with the coveted number 44. That number represents Syracuse University sports legends and also the “Orange spirit of determination.”
He also received a Yamaha trumpet.
But it was the final moment that instilled his legacy in Syracuse University history. He was honored with the Kevin Richardson scholarship fund that will help Black and Latino students attend Syracuse University.
For a man who never thought he’d make it to Syracuse University, he is now impacting generations who finally see him and realize his time has come.
Watch above to see the entire event.